With several of his top athletes set to return next year, Thomas More Prep-Marian track and field coach James Harris can see a bright future ahead for the program.
But Harris also is eager to see what the Monarchs can accomplish in the present, with TMP sending 13 to the state meet this week in Wichita.
“We do have a lot of young kids and this will be their first time competing at the state meet,” Harris said. “When they walk out there and see twenty thousand people and that adrenaline gets going, it’s exciting to see what our young kids can do.
“An example I use is last year Julia Werth barely qualified in the 800 and she went down and took second at the state meet. It’s just amazing to see what the atmosphere can do for the kids when they just get out there and compete.”
Harris said he was pleased with the number of athletes TMP qualified through the regional at Beloit last Thursday.
“When we get to regionals it’s about getting everybody qualified,” Harris said. “We didn’t necessarily run the best times and jump the best distances or heights, but at this time of the year it’s about getting them qualified. They’ll have plenty of time at state to rest and recover between the races. We’ll see what we can go out and do.”
Sophomore Adell Riedel has been one of TMP scorers and will compete in four events at state — the 800, 1600, 1600 relay and 3200 relay.
Riedel managed to qualify for all of her events despite battling an ankle injury.
“Hopefully by state that’s all cleared up,” she said. “Definitely trying to better my times and hopefully place in top three in my individuals. I think our four-by-eight has a good shot and maybe our four-by-four if we can pull it out.”
Ethan Lang will compete in the boys 1600 and will join Lucas Lang, Garrett Pfeifer and Blayne Riedel on the 3,200 relay team.
Werth will run the 800 again after taking runner-up last year.
The TMP girls 1,600 relay team is comprised of M.K. Dwyer, Emily Schippers, Savannah Yost and Adell Riedel, while the 3,200 relay team consists of Kiara Urban, Werth, Schippers and Riedel.
In the field, Paris Wolf will compete in the long jump and Jenna Romme and Savannah Yost will take part in the high jump. Yost won the regional in the high jump by clearing 5-2.
Wolf, who placed seventh in the triple jump last year as a sophomore, said she thinks she’ll feel more comfortable competing at state the second time around.
“I think it will help me a lot,” Wolf said. “Last year, I was so nervous because of all the people and everything. And your coaches can’t be down there at all so I was really nervous. I feel like I’m more prepared this year.”
David McFarland will be the lone field athlete for the TMP boys, qualifying in the high jump.
“I’m very excited,” McFarland said. “I never got to go the previous three years, so we’ll see how it goes.”