Judy Maughan / Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Lady Trojans lost big names like Amanda Head and Kaitlin Klem last year, but there are new sprinters like Kelbie Middleton and Meghan McDermott looking to fill their shoes.
This year the Lady Trojans should do well against Faith Lutheran. How well is still to be determined. Trojans Coach Ed Kirkwood believes the girls still have some strong talent despite losing a lot of seniors last year.
“Faith lost a few in graduation, but we probably lost more. It will be like last year in the single digits, close,” Kirkwood said.
Faith still has Clarrisa Maxey, a Faith Lutheran sprinter who runs a 12:16 last year in the 100-meter dash and a 24:52 in the 200 meter. Faith also has Cayla Nikodemus, another sprinter/jumper who ran a 12:51 in the 100 meter and jumped 19 feet in the long jump. Individually those two girls will account for at least 30 points for Faith said Kirkwood.
Faith also has a strong distance runner who specializes in the 3,200 meter. Trojans distance runner, Stefanie Thelaner, last year could not touch her but did beat her in cross country this year and now thinks she can challenge her on the track.
Kirkwood said the girls team has a total of 56 girls out for track. He was a little disappointed that only ten freshmen girls came out this year.
Despite the low number, the coach believes he has some returning talent that improved in the off-season. Junior Trojans sprinter Kelbie Middleton returns better and improved. She and three other girls worked with Randall Cunningham’s track club to work on starts and speed in the off-season.
“Kelbie Middleton should be good. She is more motivated than last year. She has made a commitment to track. She only has missed one day. She will run Klem times. She looks stronger. She needs to work at her starts,” Kirkwood explained.
Middleton will be running in the 100 meter and the 200 meter and some relays.
The other two girls that trained with Cunningham are hurdler Meghan McDermott, and jumper Mikayla Davis. Trojans Coach Jill Harris, who coaches hurdles, said Meghan has good form. Kirkwood believes she will score some points. Kirkwood also said Davis has improved and jumps with jumpers who are jumping collegiate marks. He said she will break five feet in height in the high jump this year.
McDermott is expected to fill the shoes of Naomi Argabright and Sarah Dennis, two good quality hurdlers. Kirkwood hopes to get some help from Cheyenne Jackson, who is currently in dance. Jackson was in the top 48 in the state in 2012 with 51.74 time as a sophomore. She didn’t run last year due to an injury.
The team will be missing Lexi Smith, the top 400-meter runner who decided to work and Kristen Young has not come out yet. Both runners were on the 800-meter relay team and also ran the individual 800 meter.
“Kristen said she would, but she was here one day but have not seen her since,” The coach said.
Last year’s 800-meter champion, Sydney Sladek, was hoping to win the 800-meter relay at state this year and to defend her state crown.
Kirkwood is playing the waiting game to see who else will show up.
In the middle distance runners, Kirkwood said he has some wiggle room. Jennifer McCaw will take over for Smith in the 400 meter. In the 800-meter relay he will run Sladek, Fenny Descuatan and Ashlyn DiBlasi. He still needs one more girl on that team.
Another hole the girls have to fill is the one left by sprinter/shotput thrower Amanda Head. The team is hoping Cassandra Clark can step it up. Clark is only a junior and is improving every year.
“Cassandra Clark will be a tough thrower. She will be fine,” Kirkwood said.
In the end, Krkwood says his team has talent and is confident.
“I am more interested in those kids that can score second and third place. I know what the top dogs can do. I am interested in the guys and gals that can help us score second though fourth place,” he said.