The McClain High School girls track team will see three state-level performers return to the course this season, according to coach Jake Orr-Zody.
Returning junior Chayden Pitzer will be fun to watch this year, Orr-Zody said, as she competes in sprints and hurdles. Pitzer worked hard to carve out success in regionals last year, and, most recently, in the indoor state tournament, winning seventh place in the 60-meter hurdles.
“I’m really proud of her and her improvement this winter,” Orr-Zody said.
Another indoor state competitor, junior Vanessa Smith, will return to the 60-meter hurdles and long jump.
Senior Kaylee Hurley will return to seated events this year after taking a state championship title in seated shotput and the seated 400- and 800-meter dash last year.
“Kaylee’s worked really hard in the weight room this year,” he said.
“I would say our greatest strength is our sprinters. A big part of that is Pitzer. As a sprinter and a hurdler, she can do four individual events. There’s more opportunities to win there, so she’s a big part of that,” Orr-Zody said. “Other than that, we’re young.”
The team will see several seniors enter the season for their first varsity track appearance, he said, with Beth Montgomery coming in after success in basketball.
“She’s trying to figure out what she’s comfortable with,” he said. “She’s a senior that I’d like to see do some good things for us.”
Sarah Bennett, Lexie Barton and Molly Black, all seniors, are also seeing which event suits them best.
Junior Hunter Scott will return to throw for the Lady Tigers in shotput and discus.
“She’ll be our top returner there,” Orr-Zody said. “We’ll be trying to get some sprint out of her as well.”
Orr-Zody said the weather has prevented the team from getting out on the track as much as they’d like.
“We’re still waiting on the weather to get better, and we’re learning more and more about these kids every day,” he said. “We’re a young team, and we’re still learning what we’ve got. They’re learning what they can do, and they’re getting better every day.”
In the end, Orr-Zody said he’s looking forward to getting into the thick of the season.
“I’m excited to coach these girls,” he said. “I appreciate the work they’ve put in up to this point, and as the weather changes, I’m excited to see who fills in where and who steps up.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.