Head coach Jamie Heinz and the Columbia Falls High School track teams will be looking to have another successful year in 2019 as the season opens in Frenchtown April 6.
The Wildcats are coming off a 2018 season in which they finished eighth at the state meet and will be looking to do even better this year.
“I’m excited with what we have this year. We have right at 100 kids out for track right now. I have more senior boys than I have had in a very long time and I am hoping that will equate to some success,” Heinz said. “I have great balance on the boys team. I have a couple of great throwers and some good sprinters. Our distance runners are coming off a state championship in cross country and they should be the strength of our team.”
The 2018 Cats graduated four athletes who competed at the state meet last year, but Heinz said he should have between 12 and 15 seniors to help lead the way this year.
The Cats have 12 athletes who competed at last year’s state meet returning this season, including Easton Sempf, Zack Pletcher and Drew Morgan, three of the four members of last year’s mile relay team which finished second.
Parker Greene, who was third in the state in the discus will also be returning for the Cats this season, as will Danny Henjum and Kaeden Clewein, who were a members of the 400-meter relay team, which finished fifth.
Others returning that competed at state include Joe Lamb, Seth Umbriaco, Isaac Balla, Chance Adams, Tanner Gove and Richard Role.
Also joining the Cats on the track for the first time this season will be senior Colten McPhee, who will be running sprints and pole vaulting as well as possibly running on a few relay teams.
The Wildkats squad will have somewhat of an opposite look this season, with only two seniors and a lot of young talent. Heinz said that, along with some key seniors and juniors, he will have strong set of freshman and sophomore athletes on this year’s team.
“Both of those freshman and sophomore classes are extremely strong and I think there will be a lot of them that will surprise people this year,” he said. “I am really excited for those younger girls to step in and perform. There is a lot of talent there that a lot of people don’t know about. I think there is also good balance on the girls team this year. I have some very strong athletes. We will be good in the distance races. I will have some good sprinters and some good jumpers. We should have a pretty good team.”
Despite their youth, the Kats will have nine athletes returning who made it to the state meet last season, including defending state champion javelin thrower Angellica Street, who was also 11th in the shot put last year. Genevieve Delorme will return for her senior year after finishing third at state in the 800-meter run last year. Also returning will be senior Haileigh Bayee.
Junior Josie Windauer will be looking to improve on her performance at state last year, where she finished seventh in the pole vault and 12th in the 200-meter dash. Sophomores LaKia Hill and Madysen Hoerner both competed in the long jump at state last year and junior Kiera Brown was 21st in the shot put. Junior Stella Bistodeau will be looking to improve on her 10th place finish in the high jump at state last season.
Others returning for the Kats that qualified for state last year include Flora Jarvis, Paige Burger and Alexis Purcell.
While Heinz says he has high hopes for his teams this year, he said that he will use the first few track meets to help evaluate his squads.
“Other than the kids who went to state last year, all the other athletes are such an unknown that I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I just want to get through the first meet or two just to see where we are at. I will probably have a better idea of our expectations for this season in a few weeks.”