With several key returners to a boys track and field program that won the school’s first ever Sectional title in 2016, the sky is the limit for Van-Far this season.
“They’ve had some success the last couple of years and we’d like to continue on that,” said new Van-Far head coach Kevin Baldwin. “Without setting us up for failure, we’d like to contend for conference and district. We have set the goal to make the podium at state.”
Along with winning a sectional crown, the Indians also won their second straight district title last year.
Returning to this year’s squad are three of the four runners who helped the 4×100-meter relay team finish just .20 seconds away from winning a state championship.
Those same runners also won conference, district, and sectional titles in the 4×100- and 4×200-meter relay races.
The runners are Parker Wallace, Jacob Garner, and Sharrod Connor.
Filling the fourth spot will include possible sprinters Joseph Clithero, Josh Hodde, Trevor Crider, and Verlyn Johnson. Johnson could also run races in the 400 meters and 800 meters.
In spite of major injuries last year, Connor managed to place eighth in the 100 meters
Jacob Garner also won a sectional title last year in the 100 meters. He will also help the team in the pole vault event. Meanwhile, Hodde earned all-state honors with a fifth place finish in the long jump. He also led hurdles by winning a sectional title in the 110-meter hurdles.
Distance runner Lathyn McMorris returns after earning all-state honors in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races. He was also the district and sectional champion in the 1,600 meters.
Sam Hazel is also expected to see some success in the distance races.
Throwers Nathan Beatty, Kyle Ebers, and Alex Flowers are hoping their improvements will help them earn many team points this season.
Dillion Minor will lead the Indians in the high jump and could see valuable time on a relay team like the 4×400.
Baldwin said he’s liked the work the large track and field team has put into their work outs.
“The kids have worked really hard,” he noted.
Baldwin said the numbers of kids out for the track and field boys and girls programs is near 50 kids. He also said there are about 40-42 kids in the Junior High programs.
Van-Far girls track and field
Van-Far’s girls track and field program will be without its only state qualifier last year in Abbegail Robinson due to graduation.
The Lady Indians will be led this year by Jordan Garner, who was the team’s only district champion in 2016 after she won the pole vault title.
Jordan Garner will also be hoping to earn team points as a thrower and in some sprints.
Jayle Jennings returns after being a sectional qualifier in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races last year.
Other key contributors to this year’s girls program includes Mackenzie Kurz (thrower), Taryan Adam (distance), Maddie Dunn (distance), Ashley Stanich (distance, thrower), Juliana Martinez (hurdles), Hannah Bauman (sprints, relays), Aubrey Bunge (high jump), Katie Elzea (perhaps high jump), Makayla McAfee (hurdles), Alivia Graddy (jumps), and Kenedy Farrell (distance).
“With the numbers of what we have out and what I’ve seen, I think we have a chance to do pretty well at the meets as a team,” said new Van-Far head girls track and field coach Kris Cross. “…I expect they will surprise a lot of people.”
Cross said her team has been working hard every day at practice and not many have missed a practice.
“I look forward to some of the effort returning to them eventually,” Cross added.
Cross is taking over the program one year after coaching girls track and field at Bowling Green. She has also coached at Community R-VI. She said the weather has been tough for her athletes participating in the high jump and pole vault. The program’s first meet will be on Thursday, March 23 starting at 3:30 p.m. in Monroe City.