Girls track looks to exceed success, boys rebuilding through youth
Breaking down the outlook of Eudora's track and field team this year, it's easy to see more track and less field.
Led by strong runners a year ago, the girl's team finished the year as the 4A state runners-up for the second consecutive year. This year, the team has a lot of the pieces in place to duplicate that performance. In terms of point-winners for the team, the running events will once again be the strength of the team.
But with the recent weather, the throwing event participants have gotten a more fair shake in terms of being able to get their work in. It's been easier for the throwers to lift and work out inside, whereas the running events are harder to simulate inside.
Also, the weather has had some adverse effects health-wise.
"We've had a few guys that have had some hamstrings that are kind of tight, but we're starting to get some people back," coach Phil Katzenmeier said.
On the girls side, much-heralded senior Emily Ballock leads the way. A year ago, she captured her third state championship in the 300-meter hurdles and is the favorite to do so again this year. She's captured the title in each year of her high school career. She signed to run at Wichita State next year and will compete in other events to boost the running points output.
"She's got such a great work ethic and a lot of talent," Katzenmeier said. "She is a rarity. There's not many people that have accomplished what she already has."
The girls also return a 4 x 100 meter relay that was composed entirely of sophomores - Alisha Wingebach, Tianna Dunnaway, Kendal Abel and Rachel Pyle - and finished econd a year ago. The same group, now all juniors, looks to improve on that performance. Katzenmeier said that group will be looked to in order to gain some points at the state level.
Junior Allison Hoover is the lone returning field event state-qualifier in the pole vault. She finished ninth a year ago.
"She scores a lot of points in the pole vault for us, along with Kendal Abel in the long jump," Katzenmeier said.
As for the boys, Eudora is not as loaded with returning state competitors as the girls team.
"With the boys, we're looking to improve at the league and regional competitions," Katzenmeier said.
The boys loan representative at the state meet was now-sophomore Justin Ballock, younger brother to Emily. Justin Ballock finished second in the family-dominated 300 hurdles. He also qualified for state in the 110 high hurdles, but didn't medal as a freshman.
Jordan Katzfey is another member of the boys squad who returns. He's the lone experienced jumper.
"Jordan is a senior that has provided a lot of leadership for us, starting the season off," Katzenmeier said.
Junior Cody Carlson will be the top returner in the throwing events this year.
"Cody improved a great deal from his freshman to his sophomore year, and I think will continue to improve this year," Katzenmeier said. "Ben Katzenmeier, in the javelin, got hurt last year and couldn't compete after that but was showing more each meet. We look forward to those guys (competing)."
The Cardinals track team opens its season at 4 p.m. March 25 at the Snowball Relays in Wellsville. The girls won the meet a year ago and the boys finished second, and Katzenmeier looks for more of the same to open the season.
"Our boys are going to show some improvement, especially as the year goes on because we have some good, young kids - freshmen and sophomores," he said. "I like that Wellsville meet being the first meet because we can get the whole team involved. Our main goal as a coaching staff is to get as many athletes to their very best in May."