Track teams expect strong seasons

Thursday, March 26, 2009
Happy to run Democrat Photo Senior Paige Hukill runs a lap around the Cassville High School track during track and field practive last week. Hukill is one of the returning lettermen who Coach Brian Wilbanks is looking to for leadership.

The Ladycats have good reason to be optimistic this season as they prepare to compete in track and field events with a mammoth team and a host of returning letterwinners who have hopeful eyes set on the gold and, ultimately, a spot in the top tier of the Big 8 Conference.

With so much returning experience on the team, it is easy to see why Head Coach Brian Wilbanks has a positive outlook going into the 2009 season. With a team currently standing at 44 members strong, there will be potential for many powerful performances in seasons to come.

"We will have an athletic team and good numbers," said Coach Wilbanks. "We have a chance to compete for a conference finish in the top three to four if all athletes stay healthy."

Certainly, a valuable asset to the team will be returning veteran Kristi Whitcomb, who will be contributing her speed and agility to the Ladycats' arsenal.

Whitcomb, a junior, is a two-time sectional qualifier who has pushed the limits and threatened to break school records in seasons past. She will be competing this season in hurdling and sprinting events and will hopefully continue to excel as she has in the past two years.

Senior Tia Baker will also be returning as a long distance runner for the Ladycats. Baker is a durable, experienced runner, having competed three years at the varsity level. Baker is also a key member of several Ladycat relay teams.

Another senior who will be helping to guide her team is last year's MVP in sprinting, Paige Hukill. She has much know-how and speed to lend to the Ladycats and is likely to be successful in a number of events for Cassville.

Up-and-comer Risa Darveaux is back for her second season with the Ladycats' track team. She has participated in relay events and has proven herself to be a great sprinter and is a reliable prospect for Coach Wilbanks to look to this season.

Junior Marti Richmiller will renew her position as a jumper this year after earning MVP honors in jumping last year. Richmiller is expected to be a team leader again this season, hoping to "raise the bar" again in terms of achievement for the Cassville program.

In addition, these other returning starters will be looking to provide leadership and knowledge to help the Cassville program move forward this year.

Senior Ariell Abramovitz will be coming back as a medium distance runner, senior Kyra Asbury will return as a thrower, junior Nanci Young will be back as a hurdler and sprinter, sophomore Sidney Atkinson will pole vault this year, and sophomore Emily Pry will resume her position as a sprinter.

Bob Deffenbaugh, who will be working with the long distance runners, and Jay Rogers, who will be working with the throwers, will assist Coach Wilbanks this season as he begins training this large group of talented athletes for what is expected to be an exciting season at Cassville.

Wildcats recruit high

numbers for track in '09

This year Head Coach, David Large will have a huge arsenal to work with as the boys from Cassville take to the track again, thanks to an unusually high number of athletes who signed up to compete this season.

"We are excited about the upcoming boys track season," said Coach Large. "We have the most boys out for track that we have had in seven years with 56 young men coming out for the team this spring."

Coach Large and his staff, Assistant Coach Jay Rogers, who will work with throwers, and Assistant Coach Bob Deffenbaugh, who will work with distance runners, will have much work to do this season with so many students to train, but there will also be many returners to help move the team forward as they continue to strive for excellence.

There will be a myriad of sprinters on the track this year, including several veterans.

To the delight of the staff, the trio of Joseph Gouvion, Brent Elkins and Trevor Shumaker, each members of the school record-setting 4x100 team from last season, are back.

Gouvion, who is known to exhibit lightning bursts of speed, will compete in open sprints and relays this year, Elkins will pull double-duty in the air, long jumping and triple jumping for the Wildcats, and Shumaker will be involved in the 300-meter hurdle events as well as relays this season.

Sophomore and top-prospect Josh Lewright, will be used to round out the 4x100 and 4x200 teams in addition to running in open 400-meter events.

Junior Matt Angel comes back to run in the 400-meter sprints and possibly the 800-meter, moreover, Angel will be doing the high jump for Cassville for another term.

Another trio expected to contribute in a big way this season are Seth Myers, Trent Tanner and Marshall Dupont, each of whom will compete in open sprints and relays for the varsity squad.

Finally, junior Jake Musser finds his back to run in the 110 hurdles and the 300 hurdles.

There will be a total of six students who are projected to be contenders as distance runners this season.

Senior hopeful, Corey Wilbanks, returns to do the one-mile and two-mile runs this year. Wilbanks is an accomplished runner with great potential to rank high in the conference for the Wildcats.

Also, Sam Little, Omar Valenzuela, Shane Nelson, Gage Holloway and Jeremy Ashwell are likely to be varsity challengers in distance events and the 4x800 relay.

A total of eight athletes are looking for spots on the throwing team.

Seth Thompson, a senior, is back to throw for shot put for the Wildcats following a third place conference finish last season.

Junior Dylan Gibson, will revisit the team as a discus thrower and, along with Thompson, is expected to be a top thrower in the area this spring.

In addition, Garret Mahurin, Derick Testerman, Adam Prier, Tyler Skinner, Montana Ritcher and Brock Jacobs are all in the running for spots as throwers.

With such a multitude of students enrolled in track and field this season, the Wildcats will certainly have odds in their favor, not only for this season, but for seasons to come.

Coach Large, as always, will no doubt be pushing his students to exceed their prior performances and expectations as they fight to achieve glory this season, but more importantly, these students will have a perfect opportunity to build a lasting comradeship.

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