If and when the Boonville Lady Pirates track team hits the track again for the 2020 season, head coach Melissa Baker knows that she will have at least eight returning letterwinners coming back.

But the biggest question mark this season for the Lady Pirates is if and when.

With the coronavirus putting spring sports on hold until at least mid to late April, Baker said although this year’s team will be a young team she is excited about the 2020 season.

“As a coach it is exciting when you get a great group of freshmen and sophomores who are eager to learn and work hard,” Baker said. “Our juniors and seniors are stepping up as great leaders and I am looking forward to watching them grow and compete this season. There is a lot of enthusiasm right not on the girls team and that is exciting. The girls are starting to come together as a team, which should benefit our relays. I am eager to get track meets underway to see what we have and what we need to do and work on to be at our peak during conference, districts, sectionals and state.”

With 21 girls currently on the roster for Boonville, Baker said the strengths so far on the team is the desire to learn and compete. She said with a young team it is hard to say specific strengths but knows athletes who have heart and want to get better, that’s what it will take to be a strong competitor during the season.

“Again, the returning girls know how the program runs, come out and compete, so I am looking for these juniors and seniors to get out and compete,” Baker said.

However it goes back to the experience with only eight returning letterwinners out of 21 girls. Baker said getting acclimated to varsity track will be the biggest obstacle to overcome.

As for the conference this season, Baker said the TCC is a tough conference for track and field. She said Eldon won the title last year while Boonville finished sixth overall.

“Many of the schools in our conference have had strong teams year in and year out,” Baker said. “Osage, Eldon, Southern  Boone and Blair Oaks always field a good track team. Even though the conference is tough, we are looking forward to the competition.”

Needless to say, Boonville more than held its own last year by placing first in the conference in the 4 x 100 meter relay in 52.03 seconds and first in the 300 hurdles (Daylynn Baker) in 48.84 seconds. Jodie Bass also took second in the 100 meter dash in 13.12 seconds while Daylynn Baker placed second in the 100-meter hurdles in 17.15 seconds.

Baker said the goal this season is to continue to grow as individual athletes, have grit even when it’s hard and have grit even if you are losing.

“I want these girls to know they can do anything they set their mind to and to work hard at achieving,” Baker said. “I want these girls to continue to learn more about each individual event and what it takes to prepare to be successful, and to get a better grasp of how a team works in track and field. Enjoy the grind, it is fun to train and push your body to reach goals.”

As for individual events, Bass will definitely lead the way for the Lady Pirates in the sprints after finishing second in the 100 in both conference and districts.

Other sprinters that Baker is looking to this season are junior Kourtney Kendrick, sophomores Kaitlyn Divine, Layla Robinson, Gracey Rose, Anna Thompson and Kyleigh Thacker and freshmen Anastaysia Butler, Kinley Fox and Addison Ward.

Daylynn Baker, meanwhile, returns for the Lady Pirates in both the 100 and 300-meter hurdles. Baker is the returning conference champion in the 300 hurdles but also took second in the 100 hurdles during the TCC track meet. Baker also took fourth at districts in the 300 hurdles.

Bass and Bass will also return in the 4 x 100 for Boonville, which finished first at conference, first at districts, third at sectionals and 16th at state.

Of course Baker will also have a number of throwers this season in seniors Lily Terrell and Sidney Cunningham, junior Gracie Sadler, sophomores Madelyn Casey, Tristen Offineer and freshmen Alyssa Gross.

As for the mid distance and distance runners, Baker will look to sophomores Olivia Eichelberger, Rachel Massa, Hope Mesik and Kyleigh Thacker and freshmen Emily Gibson and Addison Ward.