Wildcat track coach looks to seniors for leadership
If the DeSoto high school boys and girls basketball players looked like track stars during many of their intense games, it is because many of them are members of the Wildcats' track and field team.
The track team, which has 31 boys and 21 girls, will be under the direction of first-year coach Brad Qualls. The new coach said he is thankful for the influx of hoops athletes into his program.
"I'm very impressed with the numbers we have," Qualls said. "Our first goal is to get the kids out and interested, then eventually they will experience success as individuals."
A former long jumper and sprinter at Baker University, Qualls was the head coach for Topeka Hayden High School's track team as well as an assistant for Springfield Missouri's Kickapoo High School.
On the boys' side, Qualls will look to the strong distance relay team as well as senior Chris Dexter, who will compete in running events such as the 100 meter and 200 meter.
Multisport athlete sophomore Michael Allen will be the Wildcats' long jumper and triple jumper but Qualls said he hopes to place the strong Allen in the shot put event as well.
For the girls' team, sophomore Julie Beck will compete in the long jump and triple jump while senior Tiffany Bernard will run the 4x4 relay and take part in the long jump event as well.
Qualls will look to freshmen Ali Heinen and Lisa Lambert to play important roles for the Wildcats this season. Heinen, who is also playing softball for DeSoto, will throw the discus, javelin, and shot put and Lambert will be DeSoto's multi-event athlete.
Qualls said DeSoto's upperclassmen leadership would be crucial to the team's success this season. Wildcat seniors include Dexter, sprinter and hurdler Cameron Willcot, thrower Adam Karashin, and distance runners Chad Johnson and Noe Marquez for the boys team.
The girl's seniors include Tiffany Bernard, distance runner Kendra Howard, and thrower Christina Boyce.
"We have good senior leadership and the juniors have also stepped up in leading stretching at practice," Qualls said.
The Wildcats will begin their varsity season April 10 at the Baker Relays in Baldwin. The junior varsity will compete at Mill Valley April 9 for its season opener.
Qualls said the DeSoto program should gradually progress and overcome some of the problems that the DeSoto-Mill Valley split may have caused the team.
"We will take care of little things and the big things will work out," Qualls said. "We want to have a good showing at the Kaw Valley League championship meet (at Tonganoxie) and qualify some kids for state."