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Veteran group leads young Cardinal girls’ track team

Dynamics of high school teams shift from year to year because of graduation.

Newton High’s girls graduated 17 seniors off their 2018 track team. Co-head coaches Rachel Tomas and Rachelle Tipton are looking at who best fill those line-up spots for the 2019 team.

Tomas is in her 10th season coaching NHS track and Tipton is in her seventh. Tomas said there are 24 new faces on the 2019 team roster of 41 athletes. Jeff Richardson returns as the throwing coach for both the Newton girls and boys.

“As coaches, we have seen strong abilities within the team. The girls have shown tremendous potential and effort considering being contained primarily indoors for practice thus far. It is nice to finally see the weather improve to start training at the track,” Tomas said.

Newton moves into Class 3A postseason action in track for 2019 after competing at Class 4A a year ago. The Cardinal girls are looking to do a little better than their seventh-place finish in last year’s Little Hawkeye Conference meet.

“We compete against our conference schools frequently throughout the season so will be able to see how we stack up against them. The majority of the conference is 3A as well so will get an outlook at state-qualifying competition too,” Tomas said.

Newton will look to eight returning athletes to lead the way including seniors Abbie Barr, Rachel Rhoads and Clare Muckler. Juniors Liv Whitten and Mackenzie Baker and sophomores Ashay Malow, Kate Callaghan and Kynnedei Terpstra are back.

The Cardinals have a strong core of middle to distance runners starting with state qualifier Rhoads. Rhoads placed 23rd in the 2018 Class 4A 800 meters at state in 2 minutes, 28.57 seconds. She posted a 5:05.74 in the 1,500 at Monday’s Iowa State high school meet in Ames. Rhoads also runs the 400 meters.

Rhoads, Muckler and Malow were the top runners for the Newton cross country team in the fall. Malow qualified for the state cross country meet. Muckler was Newton’s second best runner at 400 meters last year.

Providing depth to the distance ranks for the Cardinals are senior Lakin Jenkins and sophomore Willow Oswalt. Also they have freshmen Grave Benson, Lauren Zaabel, Morgan Stalzer and Kelsey Church.

“We are having some learning adjustments with many new faces but our newcomers are quick to learn. It is helpful to have strong leadership from our returning athletes,” Tomas said. “We are still looking at what events will be most competitive for us this season but have a good mix of talent for potential in all the events.”

Barr, Callaghan and Whitten were state track meet qualifiers a year ago. Barr and Callaghan are back off the Cardinal shuttle hurdle relay team which finished 13th at state in a season’s best 1:08.69. 

All three are hurdlers and compete in sprints and relays along with Terpstra. A couple more sprinters to watch for are sophomore Savanna Spencer and freshman Kya Butler.

Barr is Newton’s high jumper with a personal best of 4 feet, 10 inches a year ago. She has gone 4-8 this year at indoor meets, taking second at the Little Hawkeye Conference indoor meet. 

Whitten and junior Priscila Amador are returning to the long jump pit with the addition of freshman Brooklyn Cupples. Cupples went 14-0.25 for fourth at the conference indoor meet with Whitten in fifth and Amador in eighth.

Junior Mackenzie Baker is the top thrower back for Newton, competing in both the discus and shot put. She’ll be joined in the rings by senior Teddie Brunsmann, sophomore Tess Brunsmann and freshman Kealey Manning. Baker was fourth in the LHC indoor shot put event two weeks ago and Manning was fifth.

“A concern we have every year is keeping kids healthy throughout the season,” Tomas said. “With a large group of newcomers creates time to get to know their strengths and potential contributions to the team as well as getting used to the team’s routines and expectations.”

Tomas said as they have had good indoor meets and the first outdoor meets will see a lot of line-up changes as the coaches try different things. 

“We will explore which distances and events work best for each girl and benefit the team. The girls have been working hard during the indoor season and preseason workouts. We will be looking for growth and improvement all season, especially since we are a young team.” Tomas said.

Newton concludes its indoor track season on Thursday in the Colfax-Mingo Coed Invitational at Grinnell College in Grinnell. The Cardinal girls open the 2019 outdoor track season on March 28 at Boone.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535

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