The Highland girls track team welcomes back 14 athletes this spring, as the Lady Bulldogs look to build on last year’s second-place finish in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
“We’ve got a good number of kids back,” Highland coach Doug Bradley said.
State qualifiers Reece Portell and Alyssa Fryman, and Mackenzie Nye have all moved on due to graduation.
Top sprinters for the Lady Bulldogs will be senior Olivia Wilke, senior Megan Griesebaum, and Taylor Kesner. They will run in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter races.
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“Olivia Wilke was our second leading scorer last year and she will kind of lead the way,” Bradley said. “Due to some of the depth we lost from last year, Olivia and Megan will be really important to us in the sprints, and all three of them will run everything from the 100 to the 400 for us.”
Sophomore Brianna Schmuerbauch, freshman Lydia Hadowsky, and freshman Faith Hickam are newcomers in the sprints.
The distance runners are led by senior standout Kate Marti and sophomores Julia Loeh, Grace Meyer, and Paige Schaible. Meyer was the Lady Bulldogs’ lone qualifier at state last year in the 3,200 meters.
In the hurdles, sophomore Cloe Marti and Griesbaum are back. Sophomore Jordan Grieve and Anne Marie Beckemeyer will return in the 300 hurdles. Hadowsky also looks promising in the hurdles.
“We’re pretty excited about having five girls to go in the hurdles because last year we had to go with just one,” Bradley said.
Sophomore Nevaeh Brown, Wilke, and Savannah Graham will compete in the long jump. Wilke will handle the triple jump.
Beckemeyer, Hickam, and Schmerbauch will look to score points in the high jump.
In the pole vault, only Griesbaum returns while newcomers Karlie Hooton, Hadowsky, and Danielle Little will also have opportunities to show their skills.
Kesner and senior Abby Beyer will lead the throwing events. Freshmen Josie Hapack and Lilly Barker will work there as well.
After indoor meets at Carbondale and Charleston the past two weekends, Highland opens the outdoor season with a home dual meet against Granite City at 4 p.m. March 14.
“If things fall into place, we might be able to pull off something (good) at the conference meet but it looks like an uphill grind right now,” Bradley said. “Triad is solid and so is Mascoutah.”