3/7/2017 5:52:00 PM Coal City track teams to hit the ground running
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
The Coal City boys and girls track teams will kick off their season on March 18, when they travel to the Reed-Custer Fieldhouse for their first meet of season.
The Coalers will then host Wilmington and Reed-Custer on April 4, for the first outdoor meet.
Coal City coaches are hoping for breakout seasons from the boys and girls teams.
The Coalers are coached by Dale Koepnick, who enters his fifth year with the program. He will be assisted by Amanda Malsky and Francis Loughran.
and girls track teams.
The Coal City boys roster may be shy of members this year, but that will give the athletes more opportunities to compete in more events.
"We expect to see quite a few personal bests as a result of the increased opportunities to compete," said Koepnick. "We have some great mentors returning, and we expect they will help develop a talented and diverse group of freshmen."
Last year's boys season was highlighted with an eighth place finish in the conference meet.
Kyle Cowherd earned all-conference honors in the 300 hurdles, Brendan Cullick placed in the 800 and 1600 conference meet as a sophomore, and Aaron McMurtrey just missed the finals at Sectional as a freshman.
Also, Clayton Cash earned third place at Sectional in the 110 hurdles, while Cal Smolik nearly made the finals at Sectional, missing by 1/4 of an inch.
The Coalers return more than half of those athletes, as they will be hoping to receive second chances at Sectional, and hopefully earn a trip to state.
Sophomore McMurtrey and senior Ross Williams will compete in the throwing events this year, while junior Cullick will compete as a distance runner.
Smolik will return to the sprints and horizontal jumps, Jason Wexelberg will compete in mid-distance, and Christian Johnson will do sprints along with discus.
The boys team will also bring in 10 new freshmen this year.
"This group has very diverse interests, and we expect them to add a great deal of depth to the team," said Koepnick. "We look forward to competing against our conference rivals."
The Lady Coalers welcome a solid group of throwers to the roster, along with a large group of freshmen.
"Our talented and diverse group of ninth graders are joined by Miranda Rohder," said Koepnick. "Miranda returns as an all-conference athlete in the sprints and hurdles, transferring from Seneca."
As for returning athletes, Coal City will have four throwers returning to the line-up, including Kyra Benson who highlighted her career last year with the seventh longest discus throw in school history, and 10th furthest shot throw in school history.
She will be joined in throwing by Lizzie Easton, Jessie Winslow and Serena Schoonveld.
Moving to the running events, senior Katie Bumpous, junior Abigail Charles and sophomore Emily Powers will compete in the sprint events. Charles will also compete in the horizontal jumps.
Coaches are looking to Powers to bring some talent to the sprint, being voted most improved in 2016.
Running distance will be junior Skylar Balzuweit, who along with Charles, was part of the fifth place 4x400 team.
"We have a great group of athletes who enjoy working hard and competing," said Koepnick. "We expect all athletes to have multiple opportunities to compete each meet."