Warrior girls look to carry over last season’s track and field success

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Central’s girls track and field team includes (front, left to right) volunteer Coach McKenna Jaster, Hannah Friedlein, Hannah Koehn, Bella Schmitt, Savannah Orr, Crystal Goodrich, Lily Becwar; (middle) Coral Rork, Reese Berns, Tori Sylvester, Jaydin Dettman, Alivia Wiley, Madylen Gregerson, Staci Herman; (back) assistant Coach Jamie Rimer, Marisa Rew, Emelie Odberg, Brooke Tieden, Layla Embretson, Audrey Palas, Taylor Moser, Zoey Hyde, Alexis Thiese and coach Martha Bauder. (Photo courtesy of Jarod Bormann)

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


Coming off a successful season in which they were led by a solid senior group that did a great job of leading the team and was instrumental in the Warriors’ conference championship while also fielding several state qualifiers and a podium finish, the Central girls track and field team enters the 2024 season with some new members and different strengths. 


One strength will be in the returning runners, which includes 13 letter winners and seven state qualifiers. At the indoor meets already held this season, the Warriors have found notable success in the hurdles and with several returning members from the conference champion team, including top-three conference finishers Taylor Moser and Jaydin Dettman, as well as Madylen Gregerson. Central also returns the bulk of the shuttle-hurdle relay team, which included Moser and Gregerson last year.


“They have been working hard and are looking forward to improving on last season’s times and making a push for qualifying for state,” said coach Martha Bauder.


The team looks solid in the sprint races too, with Tori Sylvester, Staci Herman and Savannah Orr, as well as Reese Berns, Alivia Wiley and Audrey Palas. Berns and Sylvester are returning state qualifiers in other disciplines. 


One area of concern for Bauder is filling out the distance events, where the team is low on numbers with the loss of seniors Delaney Scherf, Hannah Asche, Eva Embretson and Aspen Rork. Returning, however, are juniors Alexis Thiese and Coral Rork along with Layla Embretson. 


“Filling our distance events at meets will be one area where we’ll possibly have to get a few of our runners ready to compete in more events than we normally might. They’ll have to work hard and be careful to stay healthy,” Bauder said. 


In the field events, the team is again struggling with numbers. Though Bauder predicts they will be able to fill out each event, Central will lack depth. Helping fill those events will be high jump specialist Brooke Tieden, who looks to make her way back to state and improve on her 16th place finish. 


The loss of Asche and Lexi Loan in the long jump and Scherf in the throwing events will be tough to overcome, but the Warriors are returning Layla Embretson in the discus and Thiese in the jumping events.  They are also adding a slew of new competitors, including Swedish foreign exchange student Emelie Odberg, Marisa Rew, Crystal Goodrich and Isabella Schmidt. 


“Our numbers are a little lower than last year, but we’ve gained several newcomers, so we’re looking forward to seeing how they develop and fit into some of the spots left open from graduation,” Bauder said.


Getting the smaller team ready for the new season always begins with the major challenge that Central does not have a track for the team to practice on. The Warriors are reliant on good weather and outside factors to train during the preseason. Luckily, the majority of the team participates in winter sports, meaning they’re already in good shape. According to Bauder, other team members have been coming in before and after school to train during the week. 


The good weather the last three weeks has helped the Warriors, allowing them to avoid running on the street. Instead, they’ve been able to train on dry, grassy areas, giving them time to practice field events and hurdles more regularly, which should go a long way in getting newcomers up to speed. 


In fact, in the two indoor meets already this season, the Warriors have quietly excelled, winning the 4x400 at the UIC indoor, as well as the 400-meter dash, 1500-meter run and shuttle hurdler relay. Central also secured second place in the 55-meter hurdles and 3000-meter run, while adding wins in the 55-meter and 200-meter wheelchair dashes with Zoey Hyde, a first ever for the team. Overall, the Warriors placed inside the top 10 in 15 of 16 events.


There are several milestones the team could achieve this season, starting with senior Dettman, who last season made the short list of Central girls who have qualified for state in four events in a single season. If she can qualify in three or four events again this season, she will be in the top 10 of Central girls who have qualified in 12 events over their high school career. Dettman also plans to see how close she can get to the school record in the 1500, a record set in 1991 by Natalie Karpan. 


If the Warriors place in the top three in the conference meet this season, it would make 14 out of the last 18 years they have achieved that feat. 


“We would feel successful if our individual team members work hard, gain satisfaction and confidence, achieve multiple personal records during the season, and if our team can compete for a top three finish in our conference. We’ll also feel successful if we can qualify four to five events for state,” Bauder said.


The Warriors began their quest on March 28, at West Delaware.

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