Thompson Falls has a handful of returning state meet qualifiers heading into the eventual opening of the 2019 track and field season.
Since the Blue Hawks and Lady Hawks are all anxious to see the season unfold this Saturday at the Frenchtown Invitational. The invite at that same site scheduled for last Friday was cancelled due to weather and track conditions. This Saturday’s meet begins at 10 a.m.
Trenna Ferris returns as the T-Falls head coach. She is assisted by Amy Gilbert, who coaches the jumpers and helps with the sprinters; Jake Susic, throwers; and Sarah Naegeli, distance runners.
The coaches have 40 athletes out for track and field — 23 for the boys and 17 girls. Five boys will only compete at the junior varsity level for eligibility purposes.
“We graduated a huge boys’ team last year,” Ferris said. “We’re extremely new and young on the boys’ side. We have only seven veterans of the 23 boys. And for the boys’ and girls’ teams combined, 23 athletes are new to the high school sport or are freshmen.
Conversely, 11 of the 17 members of the Lady Hawks squad are veterans.
“A lot of our freshmen are coming up from the junior high track program. A lot of them have experience,” Ferris said.
LOOKING AT the T-Falls girls’ team, two state place winners return — senior Maya Stiles in the pole vault and Jody Detlaff in the high jump. They both placed sixth.
Ferris indicated that Stiles might enter the hurdles this season. Trinity Godfrey, also a senior, joined the team last year and enters the high jump, long jump and 200-meter dash to open the season.
“We’re looking for some excitement from Kacey VanZanten in the hurdles and javelin,” Ferris said of the senior. The fourth senior, Annalynn Stover, enters the shot put, discus and javelin.
Sophomore Gabi Pallister qualified for state last year in the pole vault, giving T-Falls a solid 1-2 punch led by Stiles.
“We’re fairly strong in our distances. The throws have some potential,” Ferris said.
Other girls’ team members are juniors Shaylynda Walker and Aiden Rosales; sophomores, Megan Baxter, Sierra Hanks, Josey Neesvig, Renee Pearson and Riley Wilson; and freshmen, Caity Alexander, Julissa Bonney, Ellison Pardee and McKenzie Robins.
“Overall, we are pretty well rounded,” Ferris said of the girls’ team. “We lacked in the sprinter area last year. I think we’re going to have some strong sprinters. It’s good to see that area grow.”
CODY BURK, now a sophomore, was a boys state qualifier last season in the shot put. “That was a pretty big accomplishment,” Ferris said.
Another boys’ team leader will be Nick Viera, one of four seniors on the varsity squad. He runs the distances and is a jumper. “He really improved in the long jump last year,” Ferris said.
Junior Bradley Lantz was “very, very much improved last year,” the coach said. He’s a thrower and distance runner. Senior Wyatt Griffith ran cross country last fall and enters distance events. Sophomore Derek Anderson shows potential in the javelin.
“A strength of our program is that all the coaches are returning,” Ferris said. “What we try to focus on is the improvement we see throughout the season. We [the coaches] like to remain positive.”
It’s been a “rough go” with preseason practice due to the track and pits being covered in snow. The T-Falls “crust cinder” track is now clear, and the athletes got in some decent workouts last week and early this week.
The Blue Hawks and Lady Hawks compete at the Dave Tripp Invitational Friday, April 12 in Polson (hosted by Hot Springs), then host the Thompson Falls Invitational on Tuesday, April 16. That invite should feature 10 to 12 schools.