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Hornets return balanced track and field teams

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ALLING: Eric Alling will be among a veteran group of distance runners competing for the Rossville boys’ track and field team.
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MALSON: The Rossville girls will be led by a pair of former regional qualifiers in Julia Malson, above, and Sarah Allred.
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ALLRED: Rossville’s Sarah Allred and the rest of the Rossville girls’ track and field team have been preparing for the season, which beginsApril 4 at Flora.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

With many athletes returning from last year, Rossville head track and field coach Darrin Haupert believes that his teams are set to score points in a variety of events this season.

“The first week of practice was good,” Haupert said. “I think we have about the same numbers as we usually do – around the 45 number – and it is pretty evenly split with just over 20 boys and just over 20 girls. It is always kind of hit-and-miss in that first week, but we had a pretty solid turnout, and it should be a good year.”

On the Rossville boys’ track and field team, the Hornets have lost a valuable distance runner as well as a pair of throwers, but he is excited about the potential of some new additions.

“We lost Grant Clark,” Haupert said. “That is going to be a lot of points to make up on the boys side. We also lost a couple of our point-scoring throwers in Bryce Carmichael and Blaine Riley. They were always getting us points.

“We definitely picked up some more depth,” he added. “Last year, we were pretty top-heavy with Grant and Chase Frey scoring most of our points. From the looks of it now, we will be more evenly balanced. I don’t know if we will be stronger in the distance or the sprints, but we should have points scored in both this year. Chase is still around, so he will hopefully be a bright spot. And, hopefully, he can stay healthy all season. He got hurt last year just as he was starting to come along. We have some newcomers who could potentially have breakout seasons. It is still a little too early to know with some of the new kids.”

Entering his junior track and field season, Frey will be counted on as a consistent point-scorer for the Hornets.

“He is potentially one of those guys who could have a breakout season,” Haupert said. “If he puts his head to it, he could definitely move on to the regional in a hurdle event. We have some work to do in the high jump, but he showed a ton of potential in both hurdles last year. If we can keep him healthy, I think he has a very high ceiling.”

Dexter Porsi returns to the team after not participating last year, and the Hornets should have a deep stable of experienced distance runners on the boys’ team.

“Dexter Porsi chose to come back this year, and I know he has very high goals set for himself,” Haupert said. “He has a ton of potential as well. It will come down to developing and being able to follow through in the workouts and keep your head in the right place. And with Eric Alling, Noah Spear, Noah Clark and Braxton Good returning, I think we will have a pretty good group of runners. Most are all returning cross-country and track runners.

“Our boys’ side was a little frustrated with how last year went, so they all have a little different attitude going into this year,” he added. “They have higher expectations and are working a little harder.”

Haupert believes the girls’ team will be just as well-balanced.

“We have Kelsey Andrews in throws,” he said. “I think she can score some solid points there, and Marissa Heath takes care of our jumping. She can be a bright spot there. In the sprints we still have both Julia (Malson) and Sarah (Allred). I think they have both mentally prepared themselves for a really good season. Victoria Shedron should lead the way with the distance runs, and then we have solid underclassmen that can fill in some important points taking second and third in some of those areas. We should be pretty well balanced across all of the events.”

Both Malson and Allred have qualified for the regional meet in the past. Haupert hopes they can return to the regional meet this year along with some of their teammates.

“I am hoping that maybe a couple others to sneak in there,” he said. “That comes down to some of our new guys, depending on if they fall in. I definitely see some bright spots and some potential. But, Julia and Sarah have both been to the regional and both know what it takes to get to that point.

“For both the boys and the girls, our goal is always to improve on where we were last year,” he added. “Usually, that (is based on) the conference meet, county meet and sectional. Maybe we can improve our placement in the conference and be able to perform at a higher level in the sectional.”

The Hornets get started on April 4 when they travel to Flora for a 4:30 p.m. season-opening meet versus the Carroll Cougars.