On the heels of a strong cross country campaign, the Lynnville-Sully girls’ track team will head into the outdoor season with plenty of reason for optimism.
Five of the 13 girls on the Hawk track and field team also represented the school in state competition for cross country. Juniors Alexa Vander Leest and Tara Vos, along with freshman Shelby Foster and sophomores Madison Rasmusson and Cori Rice, will look to carry over their state-worthy success from the cross country season to the spring. Rice, Vos and Vander Leest all finished in the top half of the more than 100 Class 1A competitors at the state meet back in October. Vos had a particularly strong showing, finishing just outside the top-200 of the nearly 500 girls across all three classes.
In addition to their success during the cross country season in the fall, Vander Leest, Vos, Rice and Rasmusson along with high jumper, sophomore Shelby Davis also bring the experience of having competed on the track for the Hawks in state last year.
That team that qualified for the state championships earlier this year has Hawks coach Darin Arkema enthusiastic about his team’s chances this spring. He will rely on their experience at continuing to get better to carry over into track season.
“Five of these girls, Alexa, Tara, Cori, Madison and Shelby, were on the cross country team that qualified for state this past fall so we’ve got a strong group middle distance and distance runners,” Arkema said. “Four of those five competed at the state track meet last spring. They’ve got a lot of experience and desire to continue competing at that level and improving.”
Lynnville-Sully graduated six seniors from last year’s team. And although that experience can be difficult to replace, the fact that the Hawks bring back several competitors with state experience makes it a much easier situation for the team to deal with.
“Even though we are a young team, there is a lot of experience in this group. We lost six seniors who were big contributors through their four years, so we are working to fill in those gaps.”
The most difficult task for the young team will most likely be fatigue during the meet. The lack of depth on the squad may require some of the girls to compete in events that they otherwise might not. Also, should an injury occur, it could be difficult for the team to send an athlete to each event. However, Arkema is confident that the girls will be able to step up their energy level to that of competition when the time comes.
“With only 13 girls, there will be a challenge to fill all of the events each meet, but the girls are working hard and are anxious to compete. I know they won’t back down from bigger schools or teams with more people,” Arkema said. “We’ve got a nice mix of girls to do distance, sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws. I try to make the focus each year to improve from one year to the next as well as improve from the start of the season to the end of the season so that we are competing at our highest level come our conference, state qualifying and state meets.”