McClain’s Tigers and Lady Tigers Track and Field teams are at the same point on the development curve this season according to Boys Head Coach Nate Luke and Girls Head Coach Jake Orr-Zody with the Tigers aspiring to be at the top of the Frontier Athletic Conference and the Lady Tigers in a position where they expect to be competitive as a team.
Luke made it clear that he feels the boys on his team have the talent and dedication to reach the top of the FAC standing in 2019.
“Our expectations on the boys side are always to compete for a league championship. The boys know that we focus on preparing for league until it is over then it’s district time,” said Luke. “We think we will field a good team this year, and with a little work, possibly a team that could do great things.”
Orr-Zody was more tentative when talking about the goals for the girls team this season but, he feels the program is in a place where the team as a whole should expect to be competitive at every meet.
“For the girls I think it is to make further strides and improvements as a program. More specifically I think we should expect to be more competitive as a team,” Orr-Zody said. “We won the first Invitational in the school’s history last year at our annual Bob Bergstrom Invitational. That was a big step for us.”
Luke is expecting big things from his upperclassmen this season both on the track and in leadership roles.
“This year’s seniors will be our leaders and we will also rely on them on the track,” Luke told The Times-Gazette. “I’m really counting on seniors like Reece, Trevor, and Zane Mustard to be leaders for us and help some of our younger talent stay focused.”
The Lady Tigers on the other hand will need youth to trump experience this season for the team to reach all of their goals.
“I think, with the overall youth of the team, we will rely more heavily on our underclassman,” said Orr-Zody. “More specifically freshman and sophomores. We are very young and will depend on young athletes to step up.”
Orr-Zody also understands that his team will need to overcome the disadvantage that their inexperience presents the team with.
“A strength should be our speed and athleticism. A weakness is our youth and inexperience. We graduated to two significant membera of our team from last year in sprinter/hurdler Chayden Pitzer and thrower/sprinter Hunter Scott. Replacing those two won’t be easy but I like who we have ready to step up for us,” Orr-Zody told The Times-Gazette.
Both coaches have new and returning athletes that they expect will help their respective teams this season.
“Individual athletes to watch will be middle distance runner, Reece Schluep, who was an all league finisher in two events last year,” said Luke. “Other athletes to watch are a trio of sprinters, including sophomore Matt Bliss, senior Patrick Fout, and senior Trevor Newkirk. I also look for junior Blake Gall to do some good things in the hurdling events.”
“I think sophomore Kerigan Pollard has a chance to make a big step. She was a couple places from qualifying for the state meet as a freshman last year,” said Orr-Zody. “I look for sophomores Maddy Crawfordin the jumping events and Emma Stegbauer as a sprinter and hurdler to be big contributors for us as well as junior Ashley Hardesty in middle distance and sprints. With that I look for Maysun Faulconer and Courtney Dodds to step up in the throwing events as well.”
Ryan Applegate is the Sports Editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.