The Boonville boys and girls track teams may not be the flashiest of teams this season, nor will they have an abundance of talent up and down the lineup. But what the Pirates and Lady Pirates will have for the 2013 season is a group of athletes willing to work hard and eager to learn.
Although Mother Nature has been less than kind to the Boonville track team this season with only a hand full of days on the track, the time spent inside has allowed head coaches Steve Smith and Melissa Baker a chance to teach the athletes proper technique in not only running but also stretching.
If the weather permits, the Boonville boys and girls will get their first real test of the 2013 season on Tuesday, March 26th in the Moberly Quad starting at 4 p.m.
With 21 girls suited out for the upcoming season, 10 of which are returning from last year, Baker said the Lady Pirates will have a young track team but will also have a couple of strong upperclassmen leaders who are returning lettermen as well.
"As a coach it is exciting when you get a large group of freshmen who are eager to learn and work hard," Baker said. "There is a lot of enthusiasm right now on the girls team and that is exciting. Overcoming injuries and working through aches and pains is always a challenge during the track season. That is what it is so important for our athletes to warm up properly and take care of their bodies. We have had some difficulty training due to the inclement weather, but we are progressing as a team nicely. The girls are starting to come together as a team which should benefit our relays. I am excited to get the first couple of track meets underway to see what we have specifically and what we need to do and work on to be at our peak during conference, districts, sectionals and state."
The Boonville Lady Pirates will find out soon enough where they stand in the North Central Missouri Conference. After Friday's Cooper County Relays, the Lady Pirates will compete in the Moberly Quad on Tuesday, March 26th.
Of course when speaking of the NCMC, Baker said Hannibal was the 2012 champs and will look to defend its title. She also mentioned Kirksville and Mexico as two teams who are always very competitive as well in the conference.
"We finished fourth last year to those other three strong schools," Baker said. "I know if our girls stay strong and healthy by conference time we can give those schools some tough competition in several events. Our goal is to be competitive at each meet and continue to grow individually as a team."
Of course with youth also comes enthusiasm, which the Lady Pirates appear to have a lot of this season. Baker list youth and enthusiasm as strengths along with the desire to learn and compete. She said with a young team it is hard to say specific strengths, but the athletes have heart and that is what it will take to be a strong competitor during the season.
As far as weaknesses on the team this spring, Baker said she is hoping not being able to get on the track until last week won't have much of an effect, but we did get on the track late due to snow days and having a snow covered track. Therefore, she said, practicing some of the individuals events might be a couple of weeks behind as in comparison to other years.
Baker also commented on several goals for the upcoming season. She said the most important thing is for the girls to continue to grow as individual athletes. "I want the girls to continue to learn more about each individual events and what it takes to prepare to be successful," Baker said. "I also want them to get a better grasp of how a team works in track and field and enjoy the grind. It is fun to train and push your body to reach goals. Last year I had three athletes make it to sectionals. I would like that number to be larger and also get a relay team or two to sectionals. I would also love to have some athletes make it to the state meet."
With so many young athletes on the team this season, Baker will try to blend some of the old with the new. Returning this season for the Lady Pirates to help fill the void left by graduation last year are juniors Chloe Clinton, Savannah Burnett, Devin Ellebracht and Raven Stone and sophomores Addyson Reardon and Holly Krumm.
Clinton returns after qualifying for sectionals in the 200-meter dash last year with a personal best time of 27.59 seconds. The junior standout also ran a season's best time of 1:04.19 while competing in the 400-meter dash.
As for Burnett, she will attempt to break her personal best as well this season in the high jump at 4'-10". Baker said her goal for Burnett is to surpass 5'-0" in the high jump.
Another returning junior who is looking to improve on her times from last year is Devin Ellebracht in the 800-meter run. While turning in a season's best time of 2:39.30 in the 800 in 2012, Baker said Ellebracht is working hard this season to shed some time off of last year's times.
Raven Stone also returns in the shotput this season for the Lady Pirates. Baker said she will lean on Stone and Samantha Masterson to score points in the throwing events this season.
Meanwhile, in the hurdles, Addyson Reardon will team up with freshman standout Millie Moyer to give the Lady Pirates a great one-two punch in the 100 and 300 hurdles. A sectional qualifier last year and school record holder in the 100 hurdles with a personal best time of 16.48 seconds, Baker said she would like to see Reardon run in the 15's this spring. "I am looking for Millie Moyer to be a fierce competitor in the hurdles as well," Baker said. "I also have her penciled in to run sprints and relays and compete in the triple jump."
Sarah Ellebracht will also be looked at to score points in the pole vault. While returning for her second season in the pole vault, Baker said she would like to see Ellebracht top the 8'-0" mark.
Other athletes that Baker will count on this season are two soccer players in senior Bailey Pfeiffer and sophomore Holly Krumm. Baker said Pfeiffer will compete in the 100-meter dash while Krumm will look to improve on her personal best time of 6:26.41 in the 1600-meter run.
Joining Krumm in distance events this season for the Lady Pirates are Patience Dorman and Hannah Spaedy. In the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes, Baker will look to Sadee Haaheim, Jessica Luscombe, Havyn Monteer, Sydnee Poindexter, Kyra Price, Kaleigh Schaefer and Michelle Surratt.
Surratt will also compete in the 300 hurdles while Poindexter and Sophia Widel will battle Stone and Masterson in the throwing events. Making a push in the jumping events, meanwhile, are Britney Hughes and Kaleigh Schaefer.
Schaefer, who competed in four events last spring for the LSE girls track team, turned in a time of 12.81 in the 100-meter dash and 4'-10" in the high jump. The freshman standout also anchored both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200-meter relays for the Lady Hawks.
Another standout at LSE last year was Moyer, who turned in a personal best time of 13.92 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles and 33'-4" in the triple jump.
Like the Boonville Lady Pirates track team, the Boonville boys track team will be young with only two seniors out for the 2013 season.
With 17 athletes suited up for the spring season, the Pirates will open Friday's Cooper County Relays with only six returning lettermen.
"I am optimistic because we have six kids returning who are capable of scoring points on top of our quality freshmen class," Smith said. "There will be some events where we will score in events where we haven't scored in the past."
Smith also sees the conference as being stronger from top to bottom this season. He said the usuals such as Hannibal, Moberly and Mexico will be strong again in the NCMC.
"Our goal is to do the best we can and improve on where we finished last year, which was fifth," stated Smith. "However, our numbers will keep us from reaching the top half of the conference."
With just two seniors making up the team this season, Smith said the six juniors have been in the program for the last three years so the majority of them have a good chance of improving to the point where they are able to qualify out of districts.
As for the weaknesses this season, Smith said depth is the biggest thing that will cause the team problems down the line. He said not being able to have two competitors in each events will also hurt the teams chances in meets.
"Individually we just want to improve on our personal best," Smith said. "Team-wise we want to improve on our relays. If we do that the team points will come."
Smith is definitely looking for the Pirates to score well this season in the long jump and high jump. And why not? After all, Smith does return junior Nathan Jones in both events. While finishing fifth in conference last year in he high jump, Jones also set a personal best with a leap of 5'-10". Meanwhile, in the triple jump, Jones placed third in conference with a personal best jump of 40'-2" and fifth in districts. Freshman Brandon Ford will also look to give the Pirates depth in the triple jump after setting a personal best last spring at LSE with a leap of 34'-1". Ford also ran the opening leg last year for LSE in the 4 x 200 and competed in both the long jump, where he had a personal best of 16'-2", and hurdles in a time of 16.72 seconds.
The future is also bright for J.T. Washington, who competed in the 100 (12.28), 200 (25.88), long jump (17'-5") and 4 x 200 for the LSE Hawks in 2012.
In the throwing events, junior Grady Kay will look to improve on his throws in the shotput and discus. Smith said Kay had a personal best throw of 37'-10" in the shot last spring and 100'-9" in the discus.
Others who will compete in the shotput and discus are senior Jashon Hockaday and junior Brett Kenney.
"I really expect Grady to make a big jump in both the shotput and discus this year," Smith said.
In the pole vault, senior Blake Saling will return after setting a personal best last year with a vault of 9'-0". Freshman Braydon Johnson will also get a long look in the pole vault.
"We don't have a lot of depth in the jumping or throwing events so we might have to move other kids in those spots as the season progresses," Smith said.
Of course depth shouldn't be a problem for the Pirates in the sprints. Competing in the 100 and 200-meter dash are juniors Kenan Johnson and Dakota Meyer, sophomore Austin Hinkle and freshmen Brandon Ford and J.T. Washington.
Johnson, Meyer and Jones will also compete in the 400-meter dash along with freshman Jordan Weaver. Smith said Jones set a personal best in the 400 last year in a time of 55.51 seconds.
In the 800-meter run, junior Rory Concannon returns along with Saling with personal best times of 2:26 and 2:28, respectively. Freshmen Jason Broyhill and Brian Hagen will also compete in the 800 this season, Smith said.
The list is long as well in the 1600 and 3200-meter run, where Concannon will join freshmen Brett Murray, Jason Broyhill and Brian Hagen. Concannon, the veteran of the group, returns after setting a personal best time of 5:10 in the 1600 and 11:29 in the 3200. "Rory has really worked hard in the off-season," Smith said, "so I expect to see him really improve his times."
In the hurdles, Dakota Meyer returns after placing third in conference in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and fifth in the 110-meter high hurdles. Smith said Meyer set a personal best time of 18.13 in the 110 highs in the Chillicothe Relays and had his best time of 43.96 seconds in the Boonville Invitational last year.
Smith said he will also try Brandon Ford and Nathan Jones in the hurdles this season.
As for the relays, Smith said they will be mixed and matched. "We will play with the relays as we go," Smith said. "We are just now working on exchanges, so it will take some time."