Numbers are down a tad for the Lovell track and field team as the team moves to Class 3A, but not by much, as the team works its way through the third week of practice on the way to the season-opening meet in Cody this weekend.
There are 41 athletes preparing for the 2019 season, 21 boys and 20 girls, compared to 47 at this time a year ago, coach Joshua Sanders said.
“We’re down a little, but it ebbs and flows,” Sanders said. “Those are pretty good numbers for the girls.”
The Lovell boys, defending state champions from the Class 2A ranks, lost to graduation seven seniors who scored 90.33 points at the state track meet: Ben Cornia, Dylan Hereth, Logan Hitz, Will Lillard, Porter Nichols, Dalton Nixon and Brent Snyder. But they return three competitors who scored points at State in senior Brenden Lundberg, junior James Caldwell and sophomore CJ Lindsay.
Sanders said there is no particular group of competitors making up the strength of this year’s team like jumpers or sprinters. Rather, the talent is scattered throughout a variety of events.
Lundberg is a strong jumper who placed second in the triple jump at the state track meet last season and eighth in the long jump. He was also a member of the winning and school record-tying 1,600-meter relay team.
“Brenden is providing us some senior leadership,” Sanders said. “He found success in the (4 by) 400, and he’s always been good in the jumps.”
Caldwell had a strong year in the long-distance races, placing second in both the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs at State and running a leg of Lovell’s third-place 3,200-meter relay team. After placing second at the state cross country meet in October, he ran a strong time of 4:46.6 in the 1,600 meters at the all-class state indoor track meet three weeks ago in Gillette, placing 16th.
“James had a great finish to his indoor season. How he ran at State was awesome,” Sanders said, “and it was only his second meet (of the indoor season). He should be strong again in the distance races.”
Lindsay ran a sprint leg of the state record-setting 1,600-meter medley relay at State last year, and individually he placed fourth in the 100-meter dash and fifth in the 200-meter dash at State. He also ran well during indoor track.
“CJ had a pretty good indoor season. He really works hard, and that provides a good example,” Sanders said.
Sanders said he is looking forward to a healthy Jacob Grant, who last season was coming off a knee injury suffered early in the football season. He competed at State in the 100- and 200-meter dash.
“I like the fact that Jacob Grant is a lot healthier this year,” Sanders said. “As a senior he’d like to have a good year.”
Also back from last year’s state championship team are sophomore jumper and middle distance runner Zeke Newman and sophomore middle distance runner, hurdler and pole vaulter Tyler Nichols.
Also competing are seniors Daniel Luna and Mat Savage, juniors Hunter Harris and Coy Trainor, sophomores Bronson Hall, Kalem Joy, Jacob Mangus, Kyler Marchant, Hunter Mayes, Myzek McArthur and Ethan Nixon and freshmen Sam Cornia, Quinn Lindsay, Landon Marchant and Amos Monterde.
The Lovell girls team placed third at the state track meet in Class 2A a year ago and return a number of athletes from that squad led by senior Megan Cornia, who placed in four events at State. Cornia won the long jump, placed fifth in the 200-meter dash and placed sixth in the triple jump. She also ran a leg of the first-place 400-meter relay team with Brynn Wilkerson, Gracie Hall and Andrea Monterde, all of whom return this season. Cornia also placed in both the long jump and triple jump at the state indoor meet three weeks ago.
“She’s right where we want her to be in her preparation; she’s so different from her freshman year, which is what you want to see,” Sanders said. “The girls (as a team) are stronger in the sprint area.
“One area I want to see Megan improve in is the triple jump. She finished strong in the long jump, but we want her to finish better in the triple jump.”
Also returning is senior Karlee Burton, who placed third in the 2A 3,200 meters and eighth in the 1,600 as a junior.
“Karlee is the leader of the distance crew,” Sanders said. “She’s healthy, and Caleb (Sanders) is pleased with how she’s doing in practice.”
Along with Cornia, returning in the sprints are seniors Hall and Monterde and sophomore Wilkerson from the winning sprint relay team, along with junior Mandy Lillard. Wilkerson placed sixth at State in both the 100- and 200-meter dash and competed in the 300-meter low hurdles. Hall placed sixth in the high jump at State.
“Gracie doesn’t have the height a high-jumper typically has, but she’s explosive,” Sanders said.
Also returning from the state team are junior Patti Sanders and senior Alea Mayes from the seventh-place 3,200-meter relay team, long distance runners Sanders and sophomore Brooklyn Walker, sophomore triple-jumper Paige Marchant and junior thrower Allie Burton.
Individually, Josh Sanders coaches the triple jump, pole vault and 1,600-meter relay, Caleb Sanders the long and middle distance runners and the 3,200-meter relay, Bob Weber the high jump, long jump and 1,600 medley relay, Josie Allen the sprints and 400-meter relay and volunteer Chad Lindsay the throws. Volunteer Caitlyn Lundberg is working with jumpers.
Cody on Saturday
The Bulldogs will open the 2019 season this Saturday at the Yellowstone Sports Medicine Invitational in Cody. Action begins with field events and the 3,200-meter relay races at 9:30 a.m.
Here’s the 2019 tentative schedule:
March 23, Cody Invitational, 9:30 a.m.
March 30, Greybull Invitational, 9 a.m.
April 6, Powell Invitational, 10 a.m.
April 13, Lovell Invitational, 9:30 a.m.
April 27, Rocky Mountain Invitational, 10 a.m.
May 3, Thermopolis Invitational, 1 p.m.
May 10-11, 3A West Regional, Pinedale
May 16-18, State Track Meet, Casper
Editor’s note: The Rocky Mountain Grizzlies started practice Monday and will compete for the first time on March 30 in Greybull. Watch for a preview of the Grizz in next week’s Chronicle.