The Cassville Wildcat and Ladycat track athletes have begun their 2008 season and hope to build on last year's success.
The Cassville boys track squad is the largest its been in Coach David Large's six-year tenure with the program. This year, there are 55 boys listed on the track roster.
When it comes to events that could give the Wildcats some points this season, Coach Large is looking to his 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams that include seniors Jacob Gouvion and Phillip Cooper, junior Brent Elkins and sophomore Joseph Gouvion.
In last week's opening meet at McDonald County, the team's 4x100 time was only one second off the school record time. Cooper is also expected to lead the way in the individual sprinting events after finishing first in the 100-meter dash and second in the 200 at the Mustang Relays.
Another sprinter who should add some depth to the squad is junior Uziel Franco. Others who are listed as key contributors by Coach Large in the short distance category are junior JR Woodruff and freshman Josh Lewright. Sophomore Jake Musser and freshmen Trevor Shumaker and Joel Williams should also help out the squad by competing strong in varsity hurdle events.
The Wildcats will also rely on several talented jumpers who include: Elkins, long jump; junior Jon Haney, triple jump; senior Jeremy Archuleta, long jump; and sophomore Matt Angel, high jump; senior Devan Scroggins, pole vault and high jump; sophomore Jason Haney, pole vault; and sophomore Chase Creason, pole vault.
Long distance could also be a strength for the Cassville boys team. The Wildcats' top milers include junior Corey Wilbanks, sophomore Caleb Wilbanks; senior Ryan Hamilton; junior Sam Little; freshman BJ McGuffey; freshman Jeremy Ashwell; and sophomore Brett Houston.
Seniors Billy Wright and Cody Lee will top the list of Cassville's throwers. Wright is the squad's top returner in discus and Lee set a new school record last week in shot put with a throw of 49'1.5".
Other returning throwers include: senior Tyler Smith, discus; sophomore Dylan Gibson, discus; junior Seth Thompson, shot put; and senior Jacob Creason, shot put.
The ladies finished fourth overall in the Big 8 Conference last year and qualified one athlete to state. The team hopes to improve both of those this season.
Leading the way will be Kristi Whitcomb. The sophomore was the only state qualifier for the Ladycats last season. She qualified in the hurdles and will look to do the same this year.
Nanci Young, another sophomore, will give Cassville some more opportunity in the hurdle events.
Sophomore Marti Richmiller will compete for the Wildcats as a jumper.
The Ladycats bring back two throwers from last year's squad. Sophomore Naomi Beck and junior Kyra Asbury both will throw for the squad.
A strength for the Ladycat track team could also lie in its long distance runners. Seniors Misty Long and Ron'L Hoff are both running the distance events as are juniors Tia Baker and Courtney Beagle. All four qualified this fall to the state cross country competition and hope to do the same in track.
Paige Hukill will be the team's only returning sprinter. The junior will be joined by freshman Risa Darveaux, who was a star in middle school and now will work to do the same at the high school level.
Ariell Abramovitz will give the Ladycats an in-betweener, running middle distance. The junior will be joined by freshman Emily Pry.
Brittney Wilbanks will give Cassville another competitor. The senior specializes in the pole vault.
"We hope to be better then last year's fourth place finish in conference," said Cassville girls' track head coach Brian Wilbanks. "We also hope to have many individuals who can compete at districts."
Wilbanks and Large are assisted by Bob Deffenbaugh and Jay Rogers. Coach Deffenbaugh is working with long distance runners while Coach Rogers is helping the throwers.