Boonville Pirates track coach Steve Smith had one word to describe the 2018 Pirates track team: young.
With 24 athletes suited out in grades 9-12, the Pirates will have only seven returning letterwinners for the 2018 season.
“We are still real young but we are growing,” Smith said. “We are still not a upperclass team so we will struggle to score points”
The Pirates will find out soon enough if they can score points or not, as they compete in the Mule Indoor Relays on the campus of University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg on Monday starting at 1 p.m. Then, on Thursday, Boonville will compete in the California Relays starting at 4 p.m.
With a lot of question marks to open the 2018 season, Smith also has to deal with competing on the road for 11 meets this season. Due to the construction on the soccer fields at Boonville High School, the Boonville boys and girls track teams will have to hit the road for every meet this season. Even the annual Jack McCush Relays will be held at California this year on Friday, April 13th.
As for the conference this season, Smith said it will be the same old boys at the top.
“Hannibal will have the numbers,” Smith said. “Mexico has a good program and will be solid in the field events. We are going to try and compete with the middle of the crowd and try to get better.”
Of course with so many new faces this season, Smith said he still feels like the Pirates will be competitive in several events. He said Boonville will have a strong core returning in the distance races, and then Tramell Coleman will be strong in the long and triple jump.
“I think the throwers will also be a strength for us, with Jacob Bailey and Brandon Johnson returning,” Smith said. “As for the weaknesses, youth is probably No. 1 and then we also have a lack of upperclass sprinters. Our goal is just to get better and score points any way we can.”
If the Pirates are going to score point this season, Smith will have to look to Coleman to lead the way after finishing fourth in the triple jump at districts. Coleman also took fifth in the long jump and fifth in the 100-meter dash for the Pirates in 2017. Coleman finished the season with a personal best of 20’-9 3/4” in the long jump, 40’-5” in the triple, 11.7 in the 100 and 24.1 in the 200.
“There is a lot expected from Tramell,” Smith said. “He has matured a lot on the track this season.”
Smith will also look to sophomores Anthony Blank and Christian Thomas to compete in the jumping events this season.
The Pirates will also be young in the high jump with junior Hayden Potter and freshman Jason Waller, both first-year athletes, looking to pick up points this season.
Smith also looks to score points this season in the pole vault, with senior Josh Teter, Blank and Thomas leading the way for the Pirates.
As for the javelin, sophomore Christopher Ueligger returns as the school record holder with a throw of 91’-4”. However waiting in the wings to break that record this season are seniors Daniel Meyer and Christian Kosnopfal and sophomores Garrett Coffey and James Dorman.
In the shot put and discus, Smith hopes to score big this season with the return of senior Jacob Bailey and junior Brandon Johnson.
Smith said Bailey finished fifth in the conference and fifth at districts last year and returns with a personal best throw of 132’-0”. As for Johnson, he placed eighth in the NCMC last year with a toss of 38’-4” but has already surpassed that throw in practice. He also had a personal best in the discus last year at 115’-0”.
Other hopefuls this season in the throwing events are Meyer and Kosnopfal and sophomores Nathan Platt, Alan McCarter and Coffey.
“The shot and discus will be a mixture of young and old,” Smith said. “They are going to improve as the season goes on. We will score some points this season and I don’t think its out of the question that we should score in every meet we compete in maybe with the exception of the Chillicothe Relays. That field is loaded every year with big schools.”
As for the sprinters, which consist of the 100 and 200 meter dash, Smith said again it will be a mixture of young and old.
Competing in the sprints this season for Boonville are Coleman, Blank, Ueligger, Thomas, Teter, Adam Edler, Marcus Clayton and Mason Arnett.
“We will have trouble competing in varsity meets in the sprints,” Smith said. “The same could be said in the hurdles. We are just young and inexperienced there as well with Clayton and freshman Jason Waller.”
As for the distance events, assistant coach Blake Bodenhamer said the 800, 1600 and 3200 are all interchangeable.
As head coach of the cross-country team, Bodenhamer said Skyler Blumhorst, Nick Ferrari and Charlie Pumel will all be solid in the distance races.
Bodenhamer said Blumhorst ran a 5.14 mile last year for a personal record while Ferrari clocked in a time of 5:24.
Other distance event runners this season for Boonville are Josh Joiner and Brayden McFarland.
Bodenhamer said Blumhorst, Pumel and Ferrari will also make up the 4 x 800-meter relay team with one more addition.
As for the 400-meter dash, Smith said right now junior Hayden Potter is the only person he knows that will compete in the 400 but it will also include a mixture of the sprinters.
In the relay races, Smith said it’s still up in the air. He said the 4 x 200 could be any number of sprinters. While in the 4 x 400, he said he may use any number of different kids from the sprinters to runners in the 400 and 800.”