Four returning state qualifiers, including a defending champion, lead Noxon into the 2019 track and field season, which opens Saturday at the Eureka Invitational. Events begin at 10 a.m., weather permitting.
After all, the Red Devils and Lady Devils had been planning on opening last Friday at the Jim Johnson Memorial Invitational in Frenchtown. The meet was cancelled due to cold weather and track conditions.
Matt Havens, the Noxon athletic director, returns as the head coach for the boys’ and girls’ teams. He is again assisted by Scott Richardson.
Eleven of the 20 athletes on the opening weekend roster are freshmen, making both the boys’ and girls’ squads very young and somewhat inexperienced on the high school level.
Senior Levi Brubaker has his sights set on repeating the Class C state triple jump title that he won last May. His winning effort of 44 feet, 3 inches came on his first jump in the finals. That was the best Class C mark of the season.
Preseason practice for Brubaker and the other Noxon jumpers has been essentially non-existent. “Our [long jump/triple jump] pit was frozen solid,” Havens said, so athletes could only do “run-throughs” on the approach.
Havens believes Brubaker is capable of uncorking a jump in the 45-foot, 6-inch range this season. Brubaker is also one of Noxon’s top sprinters.
Other returning state qualifiers for the Red Devils are senior Edison VanVleet and junior Rylan Weltz. VanVleet will run both hurdle races, in which he qualified in 2018. “That was a surprise,” Havens said. “It was pretty exciting.” VanVleet will also run the 100-meter dash.
Weltz enters the shot put, discus and javelin again this season. “He’s looking and I’m looking for him to place at state,” said Havens of all three events.
Five of the young Noxon boys’ team are freshmen.
Other athletes on the Noxon boys’ roster include junior Michael Antonich (throws); sophomores Josh Baldwin (sprints, jumps), Jared Webley (sprints, jumps); and freshmen Wyatt Lackner (distances, hurdles), Shane Reishus (distances), Cade VanVleet (throws, sprints), Andy Koonce (distances) and Nate Cano (sprints, jumps).
Havens expects the Noxon boys’ 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams to be very competitive as the season goes on. Noxon will not have any relay teams entered on the boys’ or girls’ side for the opener.
Edison VanVleet and Webley will miss the season opener at Eureka due to their commitment to the District Music Festival this Friday and Saturday.
DELANEY WELTZ, the lone senior on the Lady Devils girls’ team, qualified for state in the shot put and discus last year. Havens expects her to qualify in those events, and the javelin, this season.
Havens expects junior Elizabeth Lampshire to be solid in the 1,600 and 3,200 this season. He expects the throwers and a couple of sprinters to step up and be competitive.
Also on the Noxon girls’ roster are lone sophomore Avery Vogel (throws, sprints); and freshmen Riley Richter (sprints), Ariana Wood (distances), Gabby Stough (sprints), Angel Hammell (sprints), Sarah Clements (distances) and Jaedyn Murray (throws).
Since Noxon does not have a pole vault pit, the school has no entries in that event this season.
Noxon competes in the District 14C with Plains, Hot Springs, Arlee, Charlo, St. Regis and Two Eagle River. Charlo is the defending boys’ and girls’ district champion. “They have the numbers and pretty good quality athletes,” Havins said.
“Our main goal every year is to get better every day,” the coach said.
After the opening meet at Eureka on Saturday, Noxon competes in the Dave Tripp Invitational in Polson on April 12 (hosted by Hot Springs) and the Thompson Falls Invitational on April 16.