Ideal weather has made practice perfect for the De Soto track team
The sky loomed dark and the football field was soggy. Neither did much to stop the flock of De Soto athletes zooming around the muck and beneath the clouds, however.
Temperate weather has proven advantageous to the De Soto track team now more than a week into its practice routine and Tuesday, with more than three weeks remaining until the first varsity meet, boys coach Chris McAfee said practice wise, things are going well.
"It's been very, very nice so far," he said.
As for the team the Wildcats may field on March 31 at the Baldwin Relays, that's still coming along, he said.
McAfee said the De Soto boys could be strong in the hurdles and in the distance running events now, but the entire team could turn dangerous in another year.
"We're young on the throwers. The potential's there, but we're probably another year out. Sprinters, we have a couple guys that could be good there. Distance we'll be deep. We have Luke Krehbiel and a couple new kids out that will help us out in the hurdles. We're just really not deep," McAfee said. "Hurdles and distance will be our strengths. Pole vaulter could be a sleeper. We could have some surprises but I'd say we're still a year away from being really good."
Krehbiel is the only boy returning who qualified for state in an individual event last season and represents the Cats best chances to score points on the boys side.
Adam Justice, Lucas Slater and Alex Wayne ran at state in the 3200-meter relay and along with Tanner McNamara running the individual 3200 and Chris Dvorak, who will join the relay, should help anchor the team.
The girls will also turn to the distance ranks for support, although the strongest returning athlete may be Jackie Goleman.
Goleman placed third in high jump at state last season, and also hopes to return to state in the 300-meter hurdles.
"We have a few distance girls -- as usual -- and we'll hopefully score some points there," first-year girls coach Brian Dinkel said. "Distance girls like Morgan Frehe, Carrie Wilbert and Lauren Karnitz should help and Jackie Goleman should be able to score in the hurdles and high jump again."
But like the boys team, the girls' squad may be too often defined as young and shallow to make a real jump in the Frontier League team standings.
"We're young, we're strong, but we're not very deep," Dinkel said. "We have a lot of young girls that could contribute right away. Allison Freund will be pretty good. She's a freshman who looks really strong in the 400-meter and the 800. We should also be good in the pole vault."
Dinkel has been a hurdles and jumping coach with the track team for four years, but is taking over as girls head coach for the first time this season. A track athlete at K-State until he graduated in 2000, he teaches sixth grade at Lexington Trails Middle School.
Supervising his first team as it worked across the fields and track Tuesday, he saw things very similar to the way McAfee saw the boys.
"We have a good foundation," Dinkel said. "If we keep working out, we could be pretty good over the next few years."