After a 2011 season with just 16 participants, the Centre High School track team has grown this year to 25, including 14 freshmen.
The team lost three letter winners to graduation, and three letter winners have returned.
Senior Theo Kassebaum has been the girls’ leading scorer in each of the three previous years. She qualified as a sophomore and junior for the state track meet in the 100-meter hurdles. She finished eighth in 2010 and seventh in 2011, earning the first state medal for a CHS girl since 2004. She also has been competitive in the 300 low hurdles, long jump, and 4x100 relay.
Junior Ellie Miller is still recovering from a knee injury and will likely compete only in short sprints this year after competing formerly in high jump and triple jump.
Sophomore Cacey Simons competes in high jump, 100- and 200-meter dashes, and 4x100 relay. She was fifth in high jump at the regional meet last year. She is a co-record holder in the 200 at the Wheat State League meet.
Coach Alan Stahlecker expects good performances from juniors Houston Svoboda in the 100 and 200 and Justin Deines in the 200 and javelin. Sophomore Grant Srajer, competing in the 100, long jump, and triple jump, and Ty Simons in the 110 high hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles, and triple jump, also are expected to do well.
Among the girls, junior Anna Weber, competing for the first time in track, is expected to be competitive in the long jump, triple jump, and 4x100 relay. Freshmen expected to do well are Nellie Kassebaum in the 800- and 1600-meter runs and triple jump; Shelby Makovec in the 1600 and 3200; and Brenna Shields in the 100 and 400 and long jump.
The other members of the team are seniors Zach Calvert and Bessie Yang; sophomores, Mickey Brubaker and Kristy Laing; and freshmen Daniela Beck, Justin Bina, Cassidy Hill, Amber Holub, Tia Jenkins, Courtney Mai, Conner Montgomery, Callie Riffel, Kailyn Riffel, Dakota Stimpson, and Mark Vinduska.
Stahlecker is in his third year as head coach after eight years as an assistant. Kelly Steiner is his assistant.
“I expect that all the athletes will work hard at their events and will have numerous personal records over the course of the season,” Stahlecker said. “It will take some time for the younger athletes to develop the necessary competitiveness at the high school level, but I am sure they will progress toward that over the season. Our experienced upperclassmen need to lead the way in the early meets.”
Their first meet is at 4:30 p.m. April 3 in Marion.