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Track: Boys to start strong, girls building

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By Laura Clark

 

Boys

With the exception of the middle distance events, the boys’ track team had a depth of talent that should carry them to some state titles this season.

The middle distance runners, coach George Cottrell said, are young, and could potentially develop and make Shelby track a powerhouse. Promising runners in those events include freshman Thomas Smith and sophomores Reed Mills, Trye Hold and Christian Olsson.

“They’ve had good training,” Cottrell said. “It’s just the experience of racing with our competition.”

He said the coaching staff and experienced runners are trying to teach the rookies what it takes to compete with the “Trinity’s of the world.”

Several of Shelby’s top runners from last year return to make another run at state titles. Senior Stacey Eden already won state in the 3,200 last year. Cottrell hopes he can add the 800 or mile to his list of events. Joining Eden in leading the distance runners is fellow senior Will Thompson.

The Rockets are exceptionally strong in sprints and field events.

Seniors Kurtis Mann, Matt Axline, Ryan Richardson and R.J. Beitz stack the shot put and discus field. Junior Quinten Cottrell also throws discus.

“They’re going to score well all the way through state,” coach Jerry Lucas said.

In long and triple jump, promising athletes Zakk Bailey and Taylor Lay, both sophomores have come out. Cottrell expects Bryant Swan to return. Swan, a junior, just missed making state last year in long jump. He also hopes to add Tavis Elzy, particularly in the high jump.

“[Elzy] gives us a lot of athleticism,” Cottrell said.

Bailey, Lay and Cottrell also add depth in the sprinting events, joining junior Tyler Phillips and senior Edwin Thomas. Thomas was a top 10 finisher in the state meet last year in both the 100- and 200-meter races. With good numbers, Cottrell said he’ll have the ability to move athletes around in meets and score points in many areas.

The depth will also make strong relay teams.

“We’re really optimistic about what we can do with our sprint relays,” Cottrell said. “Hopefully, we can get three sprint relays to the state meet this year.”

Last year the 800-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams made it to state, with the 1,600-meter team finishing in the top five. The 400-meter team missed qualifying by just hundredths of a second. The Rockets were fourth in the region and ninth in the state in 2009.

Girls

Shelby’s girls team doesn’t have the same depth as the boys’ team, but they have plenty of new talent to work with. Right now the coaches are trying to develop runners and find what events they’ll excel in.

Some of the experienced runners Shelby has are sprinter Jayln Stewart and distance runners Taylor Webb and Caterina Karas. Webb and Karas are both underclassmen, but they have years of distance running experience that makes them a dangerous tandem, Lucas said.

He called Karas “the real deal,” pointing to her 3,000-meter win in the Mason-Dixon Games, an indoor track invitational that draws the best in the state.

In the field events, junior Emma Hamilton and senior Maggie Geotzinger are the throwers. The jumping events are still open.

Among the promising sprinters are Tiller Botkins, Leeara Cardwell, Hailey Donovan and Hannah Gardner. All are sophomores. Cardwell has shown promise in the 400-meter dash, and Gardner could make a solid hurdler.

“I think by the end of the season, we can have a strong girls team,” Lucas said.

The Rockets began the outdoor season Tuesday with one of several Shelby All-Comers meets. Please see results in this section.