If the Heart of Illinois Indoor Conference Meet is any indication, the Fieldcrest track and field team will have a long way to go to score most of its points this season, literally.
The strength of the Knights this spring, as it has been in most seasons in recent memory, is in the distance runners and longer relays. However, there is hope that new sprint and field coach Nate Roemer, the former Woodland football and track standout, will have his charges ready for the outdoor season and make the FHS unit a competitive one as a team.
Carol Bauer, the former head coach who now mainly coaches the distance athletes, believes that though a few of her runners have been lacking in their training miles because of participation in other sports and activities, the core of her squad can be a threat in those events and relays by midseason.
Leading the way is sophomore Andy Wiesenhofer, who took part in football in the fall instead of cross country but in time will be in the hunt for a state berth he missed last year by just a single second. He was third in the 3200 (10:59) and 10th in the mile (5:15) at the league meet at Illinois Wesleyan University on Saturday.
He could also be part of a strong 3200 relay, though a different foursome posted a 9:19 there for fifth place. That was promising freshman Christian Skaggs, junior Logan Schmillen, sophomore Andrew Gochanour and junior Blayze Arndt.
Ryan Gochanour, another of the sophomore triplets, will also challenge that group as well, while all may participate in the 1600, 800 and possibly even the 400 as needed, along with the third triplet, Connor Gochanour, and freshman Victor Echeveste.
The male sprinters are not as established as yet, outside of junior Micah Hurd. Hurd, called by Bauer “very hungry, a real competitor,” last year at the Bureau Valley Sectional dove at the finish line and place second and advance to state. However, he’s now rehabbing from a serious knee injury. Back to light jogging, he should be back later in the outdoor season.
The girls have lost through graduation Claire Weers, a ninth-place finisher in the 800 at state last year, will like the boys be strongest in the distances, too, led by juniors Sadie and Sydney White. Sadie turned in a 2:47 to take fifth in the 800 and Sydney a 2:48 for sixth place on Saturday, while also placing sixth (6:21) and seventh (6:25), respectively, in the mile.
Joined by freshmen Samantha Vazquez and Becca Hudson, the Whites formed a mile relay that could develop into a mainstay.
“We have a few athletes who don’t have the miles in that we’d like them to because they’re participating in other sports, and Micah still has some conditioning to do because of his injury,” said Bauer. “I’m excited because there’s some talent there, but we’re very young, so we might not be as good now as we will be a year from now.”