It is a large group of Thunderbirds that head coach Summer Younie has to work with as early season track workouts progress.

It is a large group of Thunderbirds that head coach Summer Younie has to work with as early season track workouts progress.

“We have 26 boys and 16 girls,” Younie mentioned. “We have never had this large a group of boys out before. To have more boys than girl is unusual for us.”

Accounting for the increase is that 10 freshman boys are on the squad, and the sophomore and junior classes each picked up some kids that were not out last year. It will, however, be a young team despite its size. There are no senior boys sporting the Columbia blue this spring.

The girls have 5 returning seniors and 6 sophomores, with the rest split between frosh and juniors.

Sophomore distance runner Roman Ibarra is the leading returning point-getter for the T-Birds. Ibarra went to State last spring in the mile.

He will be getting a bit of help in the long races this year from several of his teammates off last fall’s successful crosscountry team. Those runners will include Tony Ibarra, Bryce McKennon, Colin Kumberg, and the Cason brothers Lucas and Khaleb. The T-Birds look to have a pretty solid cadre of distance runners.

Juniors Blake Lee, Daniel Hacker and Layton Kenworthy return in the throws. Levi Johnson may be in the discus mix as well. Dustin Weber will most likely compete in hurdles, sprints and high jump. Tristen Hogan returns in sprints and triple jump.

“With so many new kids, it will take us awhile to get everything sorted out on the boys’ side,” Coach Younie said. “We are picking up some additional JV meets because we have so many freshmen boys. It’s hard for freshmen boys to compete against seniors in things like shot put.”

On the girls’ side, expectations are high for distance specialist Brooke Fisher who has signed to run collegiately. She will likely be a frequent medalist and point-getter and be in the mix for State.

Other senior girls on the team are Taylor DeWeese, hurdles and high jump; Abby Giles, middle distance and hurdles; Taylor Tobin, jumps; and, new to the sport this year, Mycha Owens will help out in sprints and relays.

Junior Katherine Ghumm will compete in the throws. Sophomore Jessica DeWeese had a dynamic debut as a sprinter in her freshman year, culminating in a State appearance. Coach Younie will be counting on her to repeat that success. Bailey DeClue returns in jumps and relays.

Promising newcomers include Kamryn Stark and Madalyn Owens, who are both sprinter/jumper types according to Coach Younie.

“It’s been fun so far,” Younie said of her team’s early preparation. One difference this season is that Younie has assumed the reins of the middle school track program as well. “That’s going to help us in the long run with continuity in learning fundamentals and techniques,” she observed.

Younie has the benefit of a full complement of assistants this year. Heike Beeson and Holly Van Skike are primarily the middle school assistants, and Steve Little and Lori Anschutz are primarily the high school assistants. But each coach overlaps a little bit into the earlier or the later practice so that both middlers and high-schoolers are at times getting the benefit of instruction from five coaches for at least part of the practice.

“For me, it’s been fantastic having more help,” Coach Younie expressed. “And the kids have more instruction available to them, which is a good thing.”

The T-Birds first meet this spring will be April 4th at Kinsley.