Boys track team takes aim at high marks
Gold medals might not pile up for the Tonganoxie boys track team this spring.
But with several athletes out for track this year, THS coach Phil Williams said the Chieftains have the potential to still score plenty of points.
"I can see us almost placing every event," Williams said. "We probably won't be taking a lot of first-place medals at meets."
The Chieftains have to replace some heavy contributors who were lost to graduation.
Billy Baska was a senior last year in the triple jump and the sprints, while Nick Stein was a state qualifier in the shot put. Matt Madeira (sprints) and Travis Andrews (pole vault) also graduated, as did Shane Howard, who advanced to state in the hurdles.
"Shane Howard is going to be a hard one to replace, but I think we'll score some in the hurdles," Williams said.
Now Tonganoxie will depend on another batch of seniors to lead the way. Andy Kolman and Levi Huseman were state qualifiers in distance events last season, while Kaleb Lawrence, Matt Chenoweth, Chris Clark and Robert Kirch also return.
Sam Mitchell, who hasn't participated in track since his freshman year, is back as a senior. Zach Ditty is in his first year of track as a senior.
"We lost some good seniors, but this group of seniors has been providing a lot of leadership for us," Williams said.
Lawrence, Kolman and Huseman were some of Tonganoxie's top scorers last year. Williams expects Mitchell and Ditty to contribute as well.
"Sam can jump and sprint and we're turning him into a hurdler, so that's going to help," Williams said about Mitchell.
Williams looks to put Ditty in various events also.
"He's got some decent speed and I think he could eventually be a javelin thrower. I think he's going to help us."
Junior Kent Fleming returns after taking sixth at regionals last season. Sophomore Jeff Hughes returns in the hurdles and jumping events.
"I've been really excited," Williams said. "Our guys have great attitudes and are working pretty hard."
Tonganoxie will be defending its Kaw Valley League title this year. Williams expects Lansing and Mill Valley to be the teams to beat this year, along with THS.
"I think we certainly should be in the running for it," Williams said.
Tonganoxie competed under overcast skies Tuesday at Lansing in the team's season opener.
The Chieftains will be back in action Friday at the Bobcat Relays in Basehor. That meet is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Tonganoxie then will have a week off before competing April 15 at Eudora.