The Holden girls track and field team is approaching the starting line for the upcoming season with a sizable roster under first-year head coach David Diener.
Forty-three team members make up the Lady Eagles’ roster heading into the season as coach Diener replaces Spencer Gudde who served as the head coach of the high school track and field teams for nine years.
Gudde is now in his second year of performing duties as the Holden R-3 Activities Director, and remains as an assistant coach for the track and field program.
Warm temperatures greeted the high school track and field teams as preparation for the spring schedule began before a snowstorm hit the Holden area.
Prior to the winter blast, coach Diener and his assistant coach staff of nine members took advantage of the good weather to transition to track and field conditioning.
“The first week was great, because we were able to get outside, and start getting athletes’ legs undearneath them with good outdoor work,” described coach Diener. “Track shape is different shape than what these athletes have been used to with winter sports, so we had a good chance to get a lot of athletes work that can only be replicated on the track itself, and not in hallways. It has also allowed for our throwers to get a jump start as we had many PRs (personal records) in just the opening practice throws.”
The roster for the girls team is made up of 11 seniors, 11 juniors, nine sophomores, and 12 freshmen.
Team members gone from last season include graduated seniors Sam VanHooser and Leah Robinson, and foreign exchange students Francesca Pilotti and Maaike Van Zomeren. VanHooser closed out her senior campaign by competing at the state championships in the shot put.
The seniors on this year’s team include Emma Lohe, Peyton Kilgore, Jocelyn McHenry, Liz Stout, Lena Weeks, Elaina Young, and Kiernan Feisel; and foreign exchanges students Merle Hostrup, Giada Lorenzon, Klara Tschope, and Matilda Von Matern.
Young returns to compete in the pole vault. Stout and Kilgore return to compete in throwing events. McHenry ran legs on sprint relay teams, and threw the javelin last year. Lohe is a returning state medalist as a 4x800m relay team member during her freshman season. Last season, Lohe competed in the 4x800m relay, and jumping events.
A solid group of athletes are on coach Diener’s radar as seniors, underclass returners, and freshmen alike are identified by the head coach.
“The girls team will be very competitive in the high jump, led by returning state qualifier Marah Klover,” notes coach Diener. “Junior middle distance runner Gracie Carver, and junior hurdler Camille Davidson will both be competitive this year. Freshman Ava Young was a state qualifier in cross country, so we are looking forward to her distance runs on the track this year. Senior Liz Stout will be very competitive at the shot put this year.
“I also expect this group to be able to put some good relay teams together in the 4×200, and 4×800 meter runs.”
Junior Alli Iles looks to compete in distances races. Juniors Autumn Cantrell, GiGi Jones, J’Lee Jones, Natalie Moss, Kimmie Spring, and Alex VanHooser bring experience from last season in various events.
The nine assistant coaches joining coach Diener this season include sprinters coaches Griffin Keller and Dan Conner; throwers coaches Mark Weddle, Ashley Perman, and Luke Litrell; pole vault coach Kim Hankins; hurdlers coach Spencer Gudde; and jumpers coach Dale Wescott. Coach Diener will focus on guiding the middle distance runners.
Last season, the Lady Eagles placed second as a squad at the MRVC-East track and field meet to break a streak of four consecutive first-place team championsihp finishes for the Holden girls. Higginsville dethroned the Lady Eagles last season, and the Lady Huskers look to to challenge the Lady Eagles again.
“The Higginsville girls will be one of our top competitors in the conference, but we would expect to finish in the top three of the conference,” says coach Diener. “What is exciting to me this most is to see the team progress throughout the season. There are many returners that have experienced success who will be supported by some young talented sophomores and freshmen, in both the girls and guys events.
“I think that once we have had some meets, and athletes really find how they fit to help our team the best, we will have a competitive overall team.”
The first meet for the Holden high school track and field teams is set for this coming Monday, March 21 when the teams will compete at the UCM Indoor Relays in Warrensburg.