DRAFFENVILLE – Marshall County boys’ track coach Jared Rosa is optimistic about the 2012 season. Girls’ coach Cory Westerfield is even more positive than that.
“Our number one goal for this year is to win our region,” Westerfield said bluntly.
The comment shapes up as more than an idle boast. The Lady Marshals have posted finishes of second, third and second the past three years in the Region 1 meet and there’s plenty of talent coming back this season.
“We have a strong girls team, probably the strongest we’ve had in several years,” he said. “That’s not to say that past teams weren’t good, but this year I believe we are deeper than we have ever been in almost all of the events.”
Seniors Lauren Miller, Tory Fehrenbacher and Melanie McKendree all advanced to state in their respective events last year. They form the nucleus of the team.
“We have good field event kids, good distance, and good sprinters,” Westerfield said. “I feel like we will definitely be one of the teams to beat in our region along with Owensboro.”
Rosa noted what a hard-working team he had last year and that the hard work was rewarded with some high finishes.
“Hopefully this year we have a good group of seniors that can push us through to win some of those closer meets this year,” he said. “I also expect us to be a little more rounded this year scoring in all types of events – sprints, jumps, distance, and throws.”
Last year’s girls’ team was dominated by underclassmen, with the exception of Brittany Martin, who Westerfield identified as the key loss.
“Brittany ran hurdles and was the first leg of all of our sprint relays,” he said.
“However, with this year’s team, I think we have several who are primed and ready to step up and take her place.”
Miller returns as the region champion in the hurdles, and Westerfield said there are several others in training to step up and pick up the slack left by Martin’s graduation.
“Both of our vaulters went to state last year (Devan Doss and Shelby Doucet) and we are looking for them to continue to improve,” he said. “We also have Alyssa Barnard [triple-jump state qualifier as an eighth grader last year] returning along with a host of new and very talented freshman and sophomores.”
Seniors were more prominent on the boys’ side last year.
“We graduated Mitchell Stelter and Stephen Atkinson, who both qualified and placed at the state meet last year,” Rosa said.
Mitchell excelled in the hurdles and Atkinson’s third-place finish in the high jump was Marshall County’s best finish in the state meet.
“Doug Reed will hopefully fill the void with hurdles, but those events are wide open as far as availability,” Rosa said.
In the high jump, he said, “I am currently working with Ryan Wells, Doug Reed and Cody Gregory, a few individuals that have potential to do some good things there this year.”
In addition, “the distance guys have a ton of potential, and are working extremely hard and I think they will live up to expectations I have of them. The sprinters and jumpers will compete across the board in all events.”
Westerfield wants to make Marshall County’s tradition of high achievement in track and field less of a secret.
“Our school has been a power annually in our region since the early 80s,” he said. “Coach Rosa and I are trying very hard to maintain that tradition and to continue to build on it.”
Westerfield noted the impression former track standout Adriane Diamond-Travis made on his athletes during her appearnce at last fall’s MCHS Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“We were fortunate to have her speak with several of our kids,” he said. “They see her name on the record board, so they thought it was pretty cool for them to meet her.”