Central girls track enters season excited to make up for lost year

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Members of the Central girls track and field team include (front, left to right) managers Karleigh Thorson and Hailey Sharpe; (second row) Hannah Asche, Staci Herman, Alivia Keppler, Madeline Wille, Maci Kluesner, McKenna Jaster, Allie Mussman, Brittni Tieden, Abby Cummer, Shannon Farmer, Katelyn Scherf, Grace Kuehl; (third row) Alyson Feickert, Brandy Beatty, Brooklyn Amsden, Macie Winters, Madylen Gregerson, Mackayla Vlazny, Mylee Wingert, Jaydin Dettman, Haley Mueller, Elizabeth Royer, assistant coach Stacey Moore; (back) Gracie Cummer, Delaney Scherf, Ashlyn Scherf, Kaitlyn Wiley, Lexi Loan, Eva Embretson, Carly Kluesner, Regan Rosol and head coach Martha Bauder. (Photo courtesy of Blaker Photography)

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The cancellation of last year’s track and field season left Central’s girls devastated, including their acclaimed longtime coach Martha Bauder. But the new season brings a renewed enthusiasm and 32 total runners looking to leave their mark in the Central track and field record books and make up for the lost time. 


The team is inundated with talent, experience and leadership. There are six seniors, Abby Cummer, Maci Kluesner, Allie Mussman, McKenna Jaster, Brittni Tieden and Maddy Wille, to go along with six juniors, Brandy Beatty, Shannon Farmer, Alivia Keppler, Haley Mueller, Mylee Wingert  and Kaitlyn Wiley, who will help guide the underclassmen. 


Bauder said that’s especially important for the freshmen, who “didn’t get a chance to do anything last season and missed out on a great opportunity to win the conference in their eighth grade season.” 


The underclassmen group consists of eight sophomores: Hannah Asche, Eva Embretson, Aly Feickert, Carly Kluesner, Lexi Loan, Delaney Scherf, Katelyn Scherf and Rebecca Suhr. An impressive group of 12 freshman includes Brooklyn Amsden, Jaydin Dettman, Gracie Cummer, Madylen Gregerson, Staci Herman, Grace Kuehl, Taylor Moser, Mackayla Vlazny, Maci Winter, Lizzie Royer, Regan Rosol and Ashlyn Scherf.


It’s not just an impressive number of returners, but also the quality of the runners coming back. The team returns five girls with state meet experience and six of their top 10 scorers from the 2019 campaign. 


In addition, Bauder said they add in a “highly talented sophomore group who will add strength to the throws, jumps, hurdles, sprints and mid distance, as well as a large freshman class who will definitely bring added depth in every event area.”


But even as the season returns, the COVID-19 threat is still present.  Bauder understands the impact better than anybody, especially after enduring the heartbreaking ending to the cross country season, when the team missed out on state qualifying due to so many girls having to sit out because of contact tracing requirements at that time. 


Entering the season, COVID has already impacted the Warriors in two main ways. It has changed the team’s game plan when it comes to their time in the weight room and their classroom sessions. 


“Both of those areas being smaller has made us divide into smaller groups more than we would like. Finding a good, quiet area for 32 girls to be able to spread out enough to be able to listen to our classroom sessions while eating a nutritious snack will be a challenge,” Bauder said. 


However, Bauder remains optimistic, suggesting the pandemic has provided a sort of “silver-lining” to the upcoming season. The girls should come into the season with an extra level of excitement due to missing out last year. 


This sense of excitement filled Bauder’s message to the team, as they prepared for a new season. The main crux of the message was to approach this season with “bountiful excitement and enthusiasm due to the heartbreak of missing out last season.”


“The sophomores should be excited because they just got a taste of high school track/field opportunities with our team last year before it got shut down. The juniors should be raring to go because they missed their sophomore season, which is nearly always a breakout season due to the experience they had gained as freshmen and because they are most likely stronger and taller,” Bauder explained. “Then, of course, the seniors who are entering their last season of track/field and should be ready to give it everything they have.” 


This excitement is buttressed by the cautious fact that COVID-19 appears to be on the decline and its “grip is lightening up a bit,” in the words of Bauder. 


Bauder has her own excitement for the season and the sport. They’re not just her favorite things, but things she believes drive participation. In the sport of track and field, you are challenged every day both mentally and physically. As a result, you have the opportunity to get in the best shape of your life by pushing your body and mind to do things you either know you won’t like doing because it will be hard, or you just don’t know if you can even do it. 


There is also the fact that there’s really no bench time in track and field. With so many different events to work at, and anywhere from 50 to 100 spots available each meet, the possibilities are almost endless for anyone who wants to put forth the time and effort. 


Lastly, achievements are measurable, so it’s easier to make goals, accomplish them and stay motivated to go to the next goal.


As for this season’s goals, Bauder continues to aim high, believing in the team and their ability. Bauder wants to be top two in the conference, top two in the district and top 10 at the state meet. She also wants to have at least five personal records in meet competitions for every participant and see improvements in 90 percent of individual personal record tests that cover the five domains of athleticism that have been implemented at Central: speed, strength, mobility, endurance and agility.


Despite a lost season, Bauder’s confidence has not be shaken, nor have her expectations for a team she believes possesses the talent to accomplish the stated goals and much more. 


“I believe we have an extremely solid talent and experience base with our combination of numbers and talent in all of the grade levels and all of the event areas to accomplish every one of our goals. Plus, I can guarantee we will be pleasantly surprised by numerous breakout performances from athletes who don’t even know what their capabilities are,” she said.


The Warriors begin their season on Thursday, April 1, at West Delaware High School.

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