Wildcat track teams ready for 2007 season

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Cassville High School Ladycat track team will begin its spring season this week. The Ladycats, coached by Brian Wilbanks, will look to the strength of their long distance program to help the team compete.

"Our long distance program should be top notch," said Wilbanks, who is assisted by Bob Deffenbaugh.

The long distance branch of the Ladycat team will consist of many of the same girls who qualified for state in cross-country.

Tia Baker, an All-State cross country runner this year, will pace the team. Baker's main event will be the 800-meter race. The sophomore was named the most improved runner on last year's squad.

Ron'L Hoff, a junior, will also return to compete in long distance, primarily in the 800. Junior Misty Long, the defending two-mile champion in the Big 8 Conference, will be another top runner for the Ladycats. Other top long distance runners are sophomores Cheyann Essley and Courtney Beagle.

Sophomore Paige Hukill, who was Cassville's top overall sprinter last year, will lead the Ladycat sprinters this season. Other sprinters include junior Brittney Wilbanks, Hoff and junior Tammy Bell.

The Ladycats have five throwers this year. Staci Rambo, Kyra Asbury, Hannah Miller, P.J. Musser and Vikki Mannix are all expected to represent Cassville well.

Sophomores Leah Jones and Ariell Abramovitz both return as middle distance runners for the Ladycats.

In addition to their primary events, some of the girls will also compete in other areas.

Wilbanks highlights this group. She will also pole vault for the Ladycats and currently holds the pole vault record for Cassville. Beagle will compete for Cassville in the hurdles, and Musser will compete in triple jump.

Other members of the squad include: Courtney Cook, Jillian Hoover, Misty Huckabey, Emily Orrell, Marti Richmiller, Jayna Schoeneman, Karen Shilling, Mandi Thompson, Kristi Whitcomb and Nanci Young.

"While the team is still young, the average age is increasing, so the future is looking bright for girls' track," said Wilbanks. "We are looking to break into the top 50 percent of conference this season."

The ladies first track meet of the season is this Thursday, March 22 at McDonald County. Cassville will host the annual Wildcat Relays on April 17 and 19. Junior varsity competition will take place on April 17 with the varsity meet on April 19.

Boys outlook

The 2007 Cassville boys track season is underway, and the Wildcats are expected to do well this spring, especially with this year's numbers. "With 48 boys out, we have the biggest numbers of any program around," said Coach David Large. Cassville's depth might help to unearth some unknown talent for the team and also will provide them with an athlete in most every event.

A key member of the 2007 squad is returning All-State thrower Nick Pianalto. Last spring, Pianalto, now entering his senior season, took home the state second place medal in the discus event. This year, the 'Cats hope that translates into a first.

Cassville's other top throwers include AJ Lee, Brandon McCullough, Tyler Smith, Billy Wright, Cody Lee, Jacob Creason, Andrew Oden, Dylan Gibson, Tyler Hammond, Seth Thompson and Gunnar Borushaski.

The Wildcats also have a lot of talent competing in other field events.

In the high jump, Colt Beck and newcomer Matthew Angel will compete. Brian Elkins and Jeremy Archuleta will complete the jumping staff with Archuleta competing in triple jump and Elkins in long jump.

Cassville has three main hurdlers in Justin Nosler, Austin Carlson and Jake Musser. In addition, fivevault. They include Devan Scroggins, Andrew Belisle, Chase Creason, Jason Haney and Vang Thao. Cassville's weakest sections will be in its running events this year.

"We should be strong in the field events," said Coach Large, "But we will have to improve in sprints and distance."

Hoping to help the 'Cats make that improvement in sprinting are Elkins, Nate Evans, Phillip Cooper, Ethan Couch, Brent Elkins, Jacob Gouvion, Jon Haney, JR Woodruff, Robbie Coberly, Marshal Dupont, Joseph Gouvion, Nathen Hagan, Martin Medina, Tim Orrell, Dannon Rose, Matt Stockton and Seth Myers.

Evans, Brian Elkins and Cooper all return after success in these events last year. Couch, Brent Elkins, Gouvion and Haney are also returning lettermen who competed at the varsity level in 2006.

Heading up the long distance portion of the running events will be Archuleta, Dale Henbest, Levi Mounce, Corey Wilbanks, Kurt Baker, Ken Carter, Willie Linenbrink, Boomer Maben and Wayne Rigby. Wilbanks is one of the long distance runners who hopes to repeat his successes of last year.

The Wildcats are coached by Large, Jay Rogers and Bob Deffenbaugh. Large is in charge of the sprinters, Rogers oversees the throwers and Deffenbaugh works with the distance runners.

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