SHS track and field young, strong in numbers
FARMER’S KORNER – Used to be, Summit High School track and field co-coach Kristy McClain’s prepractice attendance check was quick and easy. Not this year.Largely due to a crop of underclassmen that have the future looking bright, this season’s SHS track and field practices are crowded. McClain has to search the hordes sometimes before she can confirm an athlete’s presence.Last spring’s roster hovered around 25 kids. This year, the list is a teenager short of 40.For co-coach Rob Royer, who works with the throwers, the change has been enlightening.
“It’s different than it’s ever been before, because it’s not just me and one kid,” he said. “We’ve got a whole group now.”The numbers help the team’s depth, but due to youth, they probably won’t put the Tigers in a position to challenge for team wins until late in the season, if at all. And both coaches know that’s OK.”This will be a learning year, because we’ve got so many young kids,” said Royer, who has five freshmen and two sophomores within his girls throwing group alone. “It’s going to be that way especially for shot (put) and discus. We start out with, ‘This is a discus. This is how you hold it.’ It’s fun.”If the Tigers are going to make noise as a team, the loudest impact likely will come from an individual. Senior Whitney Anderson, the defending state champion in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs (mile and two-mile) and one of the top distance runners in America, returns to try to make it five state titles in two years. (She also won the cross country crown last fall, eventually taking fourth at the Foot Locker National Championship in December.)
Anderson trains with a personal coach and won’t run in all of Summit’s races, but when she does she’ll do so alongside a gung-ho group that includes junior Ben Holland and senior Charles Keeling on the boys side.Senior Bob Koch, sophomores Catherine Clark and Ryan Eberhart and freshman Gill Montgomery all figure to be in the point-scoring mix for the sprint events, while sophomore Madeline Childs and senior Charles Koenig lead the hurdlers. Childs also will sprint; Koenig figures to be one of the Tigers’ top high jumpers.Sophomore Kelsey Prim and senior John Koop return as Royer’s top throwers; Prim finished in the top five at a number of meets last year as a freshman.Among those who Summit’s coaches expect to make a broad impact in a variety of events, Bryndon Tarafa’s name sticks out. The athletic senior is likely to compete in the triple jump, sprints and hurdles.
In contrast to years past, Summit’s athletes have enjoyed the luxury of a plowed outdoors track this preseason, an advantage the distance specialist McClain said already is showing its merits.”No one’s dying, lagging so far behind it’s going to take them a few weeks before they’re in shape,” she said.The Tigers kick off their regular season today at 9 a.m. in the Cardinal Invitational at Elizabeth.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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