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Newton girls relying on strong freshman class

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 11:43 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:32 p.m. CST
(Photo courtesy of Meg Bestell-Eide)
The Newton girls track team is scheduled to begin its season at South Tama on April 2. Members of this year's team include (front row, from left) Amber Karsten, Nuria Cunado Gutierrez, Josie Thurmond, Victoria Walton, Alexis DesPlanque, Bailey Zaruba, Taylor Graff, Kacy Cazett, Halie Doland, (second row) Skylar Seals, Brooke Henning, Brooklynn Maddison, Michaela Bleeker, Sydney Bergman, Madison Bagnall, Kelly Klingensmith, (third row) Autumn Hunt, Taylor Fisher, Hailey Coy, Sarah Kalkhoff, Anna Barr, Stephanie Hoebelheinrich, Leela Spencer, (fourth row) Amanda Laube, Kaelee Knoll, Annie Hurt, Sydney Jenkins, Adrienne Bergman, Grace Coen, Sara Cook, (fifth row) Deja Harris, Cydney Hillyard, Elise Axtell, Fran Lucas, Resa Baltisberger, Taylor Moon and Caitlin Swank. Not pictured: Rachel Prendergast and MariAnna Ulrey.

The Newton girls track team hasn’t had the opportunity to compete outdoors yet. They have barely been able to practice, but that has not stopped them from impressing their coach or lighting up the leaderboard. Even though the team has an abundance of freshmen, the girls have been running like seasoned veterans.

“We have a very solid group of freshmen girls. Almost half of our whole team this year is made up of freshmen,” coach Rachel Tomas said. “They had a great year last year in middle school, and they are a very talented group. They have show as much in the indoor meets so far. I’d say this is the best indoor season we have had since I have been here.”

Tomas sounded very confident in her young squad. She also seems to know where the team’s strengths lie, despite only being with many of the girls for a short period of time.

“Our strength is definitely the mid to long distance races. We’re a very distance-heavy running team,” Tomas said. “I think we are well-represented in the 800, 1500 and even the 3000 meter runs. Mainly the 800 is where I feel we are strongest.”

During the indoor season, the Newton girls have been able to come away with impressive times on the track, particularly in the distance runs. One of those very freshmen, Grace Coen, broke a six-year-old school record in the 1500 formerly held by Casey McDermott by almost a full second at the Dickinson Relays held at UNI with a time of 4 minutes, 48.19 seconds. Coen also finished a close second in the 800 at the same meet. She was edged out by three-tenths of a second.

The crop of freshman will be under plenty of pressure to continue the program’s track record of success. Newton sent several girls to state last season, and it’s clear Tomas has no intention of slowing down the program’s progress. She expects the same out of her girls, who have certainly lived up to expectations through the indoor campaign.

“I want a successful season, and to me that means just improving from meet to meet. We had multiple girls go to state last year, so I’m expecting nothing less this season. One goal I have set for our team is to qualify for the Drake Relays, which we weren’t able to accomplish last season.”

The aforementioned Coen is one of several girls that will need to continue to perform in order to replace a strong graduating class. Thrower, sophomore Sarah Kalkhoff has stepped up in the shot put, leading the Cardinals in every indoor meet this season, and as Tomas mentioned, she has big shoes to fill, but so far, she is doing her part.

“We are trying to replace a fairly large senior class from last season. Courtney Meyer was big for us in the shot put, and she will be difficult to replace. Also, Allora Simmons did some great things in the high jump for us. She took top-3 in most of the meets last season,” Tomas said. “This year, though, we have a good crop of young throwers as well as high jumpers. In the shot put, one of the girls that has shown promise is Sarah.”

The Cardinals were originally scheduled to start their season today at Boone, but a postponement of that meet means they will begin at South Tama on April 2 instead.

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