With nearly 40 total track and field athletes coming out for this year’s Van-Far boys and girls programs, head coaches Blake Logan and Garry Pirch are hoping 2016 can be another landmark year.
The boys team has a total of 24 athletes focused on helping the Indians reach their goal of winning back-to-back district titles.
The Indians won the school’s first ever district title for the boys last year before going on to take fifth place at the state.
While focus remains on the postseason, Logan is also hoping some history can be made in the EMO Conference. Van-Far’s boys last won a district crown in 1976.
“If we stay healthy and work hard, I don’t see any reason we don’t have a shot to go back and repeat in districts,” Logan added.
“I think the goal will be for a conference title; that would be a good goal for us.”
Logan has reflected on the past, as when he first started, there were not even enough boys to have an official team.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of potential,” he said. “…I don’t see any reason we don’t compete for a plaque or trophy at the state meet this year.”
Distance runner Lathyn McMorris returns after taking second at state in the 3,200 meters and fourth in the 1,600 meters. He also won a district title in both events.
Sharrod Connor, who has battled an injury throughout this school year, is expected back. He earned state medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and long jump last year. This year, he will likely compete in sprints and relays.
Jacob Garner and Parker Wallace will also return after earning all-state honors in the 4×400 as freshman.
Both runners will likely compete in the 100 and 400 meters. Garner will also compete in the pole vault as the defending district champion.
Their senior 4×400 relay all-state partner Nick Barnes will be in relays, the 200 meters, and 300-meter hurdles.
Josh Hodde returns and will see time in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles along with relays, long jump, and triple jump.
Other key participants among a long list of other athletes hoping to earn points this season includes Andrew Snodgrass (thrower, relays), Kyle Ebers (thrower, relays), Alex Flowers (thrower, relays), Michael Colson (thrower), Colten Jensen (sprints), Joe Clithero (100 meters, relays), Nathan Beatty (thrower), Tyler Robinson (distance), Wyatt McDowell (800, 4×800), Verlyn Johnson (200 and 400 meters, relays), Dillion Minor (high jump, 200 meters, relays, hurdles), and Caden Wilburn (high jump, relays).
Logan added that he also thinks his throwers have a chance at earning all-district honors in the shot put and discus events.
For countless years, Garry Pirch has enjoyed his own track and field career competing in venues all over the country.
He’s also spent countless hours contributing his time to teach young up-and-coming track and field athletes as either a volunteer or coach.
In perhaps his final year in the coaching ranks, he has been named a head varsity coach for the first time in his career as he is in charge of the Lady Indians in 2016.
“It’s a wonderful, surprising opportunity; I’m glad to do it,” Pirch said. “And I think the girls will do well this year.”
He is returning all four runners in a 4×200-meter relay team that took second in last year’s district meet.
Those runners are Madison Orr (relays, sprints, pole vault), Abbey Robinson (sprints, relays, long jump), Alexis DeTienne (relays), and Taryn Adam (distance). Robinson took sixth in the 200 meters in last year’s EMO Conference meet.
Other key contributors this year includes Jayda Borgmeyer (thrower), Jaylee Jennings (distance), Vanessa Martinez (relays, 400 meters), and Jordan Garner. Jordan Garner scored several team points on the junior high level and is expected to compete in the 100 meters, pole vault, high jump, and discus.
The 15 Lady Indians on this year’s team is the most for the girls program in eight years.
“We discussed our goals as a team; our goal is to get second place or better at districts this year,” Pirch said. “New Haven’s got a stacked team. They just have talented girls everywhere. They are going to be tough to beat but it’s a possibility…”
Pirch said his team should be decent in the field events with several girls focused solely on those events. A couple of those girls are Aisha Ezeta (long jump, triple jump) and Mackenzie Kurz (thrower).
Other coaches helping include Scott Eickhoff (throwers) and Brennan Cashman (distance).
The first track and field meet for points will be held in Monroe City on Thursday, March 24 at 3:30 p.m.