Times Sports Editor
The Clay City track and field teams have solid numbers this season with a concentration on the youngest two classes.
Both boys' coach Keith Jones and girls' coach Michael Owens will have to replace some top point contributors this year after graduation losses.
"We're pretty young with 17 freshmen or sophomores," said Jones. "Some of them ran junior high, but it's a jump to the next level. It should be interesting to see how they develop."
On the boys' side, the sprinters will be led by Ryan Sutton who was eighth in the 100 meters at sectional. He'll be joined by senior classmates Garry Payne, Andrew Nicoson and Jason Felling.
Sutton, Payne and sophomore Jared Tiefel return from the team's fifth-place 4x100 relay team. But the Eels must find a way to replace Kevin Cook who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered in basketball.
Tiefel's workload will increase after Darrick Curry's graduation. Tiefel will also hold down a spot in the hurdle events for the Eels. He could be joined by junior Cole Nicoson and letter winner Orry Heffner.
Cole Beckley returns in the 800 meters and could add depth in the 4x800 relay as well.
The distance group should be the team's strength again this season with the return of both Conner and Parker Modesitt and freshman Jesse Vansickle will provide valuable depth.
Parker Modesitt placed 10th in the 3,200 meters at the Terre Haute North Sectional last year and was a member of the fifth-place 4x800 relay team at the sectional.
There shouldn't be a shortage of throwers this season with junior Travis Bridgewater bringing experience and a group of eight sophomores looking to add depth.
"Bridgewater has looked in the spring and Jacob Payne, I think he'll be alright in the shot put," said Jones.
The girls' team also has a tough task in replacing several experienced point scorers, but has a good group to work with this year.
"We have 27 on the team," said Owens. "We've got a pretty good blend of freshmen and sophomores and upperclassmen."
The field events are led by senior Rachael Narlock, who placed second in the sectional high jump and will see time at long jump and relays.
"Rachael knows that she'll have to be a high point scorer for us," said Owens.
Classmate Andrea Ladd also has the responsibility of being versatile and scoring big points for the Eels this season.
"She's a four-year sprinter for us," said Owens. "She's really done well."
Ladd and Narlock teamed with sophomore Britany Richard and the graduated Shawna Vencel to take the 4x100 relay team to a regional berth last year.
Hannah Moore returns to the track following injury last year and gives the team a big boost with her abilities.
"Hanna has run well this spring," commented Owens. "She was injured last year and struggled with the same injury the year before. But she's really come along and I'm proud of her progress."
Moore gives the team a strong middle distance runner that adds versatility to the relay squads as well.
In the long jump, Narlock and Megan Vansickle will be the top jumpers early along with LaKyla Cook.
The throwers have plenty to replace after seniors Kasey Waite and Jackie Sands graduated.
Lydia Farmer and Dickerson hope to have some of the same success and according to Owens, they've gotten some first hand tutelage during spring break.
"Kasey came down during break and helped them. Step-by-step we're getting better," but those are some big spots to fill," said Owens.
Narlock also has experience in the 300 hurdles and could be joined by Ashley Alexander.
Whitney Ames will likely run distance and the Eels have added Kendall Dickerson and Tessy Hoag for the coming year.
Upperclassmen will still be the key to this year's girls' team according to Owens.
"Our seniors have stepped up both on the track and in the field as well as verbally to help the younger girls adjust. The younger girls will have to fill some roles, but we have a nice group of seniors."
The Clay City track teams begin the season at Linton on Monday.
Clay City Track and Field schedule
|Mon. April 7||at Linton||5 p.m.|
|Thu. April 10||at West Vigo||5 p.m.|
|Tue. April 15||vs. Shakamak/Sput||4:30 p.m.|
|Thu. April 17||at Sullivan||4:30 p.m.|
|Tue. April 22||at Northview||5 p.m.|
|Thur. April 24 vs. N.Central/Rparke||5 p.m.|
|Tue. April 29||at Cloverdale||5 p.m.|
|Fri. May 2||at TRC Meet||4:45 p.m.|
|Fri. May 9||at SWIAC||4:45 p.m.|
|Tue. May 13||at Girls Sect.||5:30 p.m.|
|Thu. May 15||at Boys' Sect.||5 p.m.|