By ROB HAMILTON
Despite graduating a couple key athletes from last year’s squad, Mount Gilead track coach Jim Anderson is hoping his girls’ team will be able to boast a strong season.
While Shelby Rizor, who placed third in the pole vault at the state meet last year is gone, as is Raychel Gress, the coach returns 10 letterwinners and has a large group of freshmen ready to step in and contribute.
Returning for the Indians are Bryanna Bolha, Morgan Brooke, Rachel Bush, Taryn Chapman, Kenzie McKirgan, Brittany Schuller, Hannah Scott, Jenna Shipman, Kelsey Snyder and Kendrea Ward. In that freshmen class, the coach is looking for good things from Olivia Brewer, Hannah Bush, Rebecca Kindred, Darcy Picker, Savannah Randall, Makaylee Wyatt and Erin Zmuda.
“The team goal is to be competitive in all meets with outstanding experienced athletes and a strong group of freshmen,” said the coach. “We want to compete for conference and district titles.”
The coach will have some challenges on the boys’ side, as not only did the team graduate a large senior class, but also is moving up to Division II this year, where Anderson noted they will be the smallest school in the district.
Gone are Noah Scott, Logan Chapman, Jason Heacock, Branson West, Camden West, Ethan Harris, Paul Melcher and Nic Pomeroy — a group that Anderson said “provided much scoring and leadership”.
The cupboard isn’t bare, though, as nine letterwinners return in Tyler Beck, Alex Blanton, Kyle Blanton, Kyle Ciballi, Joseph Elson, Ethan Hatfield, Grant Picker, Sawyer Shipman and Keane Delp.
A number of newcomers also will be joining this year to give Anderson extra depth. The coach is looking at Andrew Baer, Jonah Barnett, Jaylynn Cahill, Chris Godfrey, Austin Hallabrin, Austin Strickland, Dre Cook and Luke Hutchinson to contribute points this spring.
“The team goal is to continue improving throughout the season and to build confidence with the youth and experience we have,” he said.
Rob Hamilton may be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 204.