The Rolla High School track team will be a mixture of youth and experience this season, according to head coach Don Knapp, with a couple of state qualifiers returning to go with several impressive young talent.
The Bulldog boys' and girls' track squad had its season-opening meet against Salem postponed on Monday due tot he weather. It is now scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 19) at the Rolla Community Track.
Knapp, in his 32nd season as Bulldog track head coach, has a large group of athletes this season with 125 on the roster – 72 boys and 53 girls.
"Approximately half the squad are freshmen, so there are many young athletes to build the future with," Knapp said. "They will be learning from some experienced upperclass athletes, especially on the relays and in the field events.
"The continuing improvement by last year's returning varsity athletes and the emphasis on development of the many younger athletes this spring will be the team's keys to a successful season."
RHS has 39 varsity letter winners back from last season, with 10 of those competing at the state sectional meet last season.
Rolla is in the rugged Class 4 District 5 this season along with Waynesville, Lebanon, Camdenton, Springfield Hillcrest, Sedalia Smith-Cotton, Jefferson City, Columbia Hickman, Columbia Rock Bridge, Washington and Springfield Central.
The Bulldogs have returning state-qualifiers in the hurdles and jumps to lead them.
Senior Alex McCormack set the RHS record and earned all-state honors in the 300-meter hurdles in 2012. He will be joined by senior Jordan Peterson in headlining the 110- and 300-hurdles this spring. Peterson was a sectional meet qualifier last season. Freshman Zach Phillips adds depth to that area.
Pacing the RHS boys in jumping events in the foam and sand pits both will be junior Aaron Froehlich, who made it to the state meet in the triple jump as a sophomore in his first season in track. He could also pace the squad in the long jump and high jump.
Froehlich, an all-stater in soccer and a starter for RHS in basketball, will also be joined by Peterson and sophomore Mohamed Dai. Other jumpers include senior Jon Knaebel; junior Payton Wilson; sophomores Laine Marler, Luke Pettijohn, Kane Meek, Aita Ikuenobe and Zack Yoakum, and freshmen Josh Leon, Will Crutcher, Jason Knaebel, Aaron Read, Lefatshe Lefatshe, Keegan Chrisco, Phillips, Nathan Cunningham and Clay Davis.
In open and relay sprint events RHS returns juniors Joe Drallmeier and Ben Maples and sophomore Jordan Kaden, all varsity point producers last year. Also back is senior Darien Abston, McCormack and Froehlich. Among the new athletes in the event are Jon Knaebel; junior Alex Hewlett; sophomores Pettijohn, Ikuenobe, Blaine Hrovat, Kory Pearson, Connor Bond, and freshmen Chrisco, Cunningham, Jason Knaebel, Jakin Ellison, Thomas MacCash, Adam Dent, Aaron Reed, Evan Voight, Lee Clancy, Aaron Settles and John Giesey.
Page 2 of 3 - Carrying on the usually good distance running tradition for RHS will be juniors Hunter Short, Matt Steineman, Chandler Gruener, Greg Wilkins, Jakob Pommerenke, Trevor Campbell and Hewlett; sophomores James Kosbar and Liam Jennings, and freshmen Dalton Rebenau, Kevin Gao, Matt Bryant, David Xiao and Crutcher.
In the pole vault two experienced vaulters return in senior Beket Edwards and sophomore Caleb Waldman. Joining them are new jumpers in junior Maples, Marler and freshmen Trevan Rafter and Rebenau.
Returning throwers in the shot put and/or discus events are sophomores Jay Atherton and Chester Jones. Among new throwers are seniors Abston and Michael Rouse; junior Chase Bartle; sophomores Dakota Cartwright, Jimmy Davis and Hrovat, and freshmen Evan Voight, Blake Jones, Jorge Barrera, Logan Bell, Beau Cartwright, Ellison, Jordan Gaskins, Charles Howdeshell, Shawn Leach, Wyatt Thompson, Jake Steiner, Austin Carson, Davis Schulze, Cody Sneathen and Braden VanKirk.
Junior Shannon McCaul, a state qualifier as a freshman, returns to lead the Lady Bulldog distance contingent. She will run the 4x800-meter relay as well as the open 800 and 1,600 this season. Other returners in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs are senior Katie Brow and juniors Madison Collier, Danielle Stagner and Sarah Butz. Newcomers include junior Jade DeShurley and freshman Joanne Callier.
Knapp expects the sprints to be a solid scoring area, including junior returners Madison Davis, Morgan Long and DeShurley. New/younger runners include senior Luisa Carero; sophomores Morgan Grooms, Micaylea Creech, Kalise Garner, MaryBeth Sells, and freshmen Meredith Sowers, Tess Feeler, Sophia Holmes, Lilly Germeroth, Jasmyn Youngblood and Sydney Ousley.
Senior Mikaela McCann and sophomore Kayla Reed head up the hurdle squad. Joining them are sophomores Krystal O'Connor and Jessica Bramer and freshmen Tandra Logiudice, Sarah Jennings, Lindsey Moore, Emily O'Neal and Gabrielle Whitesides.
Leading the jumping events are juniors Gabe Otte and Allie Burns in the high jump and senior McCann in the sand jumps. Otte will see action in the long jump and triple jump as well, along with freshman Sophia Holmes. They are joined by seniors Marin Beck and Calero; sophomores Lauren Adams, Roba Elshiekh and Megan Temples, and freshmen Cambria Ryckman, Amanda Dillon, Jenny Bai, Sadhika Jagannathan and Alisha Conroy.
Junior Leah Barks and Grooms are the top pole vaulters back. They will be joined by junior Emma Vincent and freshmen Callier and Skylar Turner.
Several new throwers will be competing in the shot put and discus. Returners include juniors Tara Mace and Robin Kempke and newcomers are junior Jessica Schulze; sophomore Aarika Froehlich, and freshmen Madison Bartle, hannah Blakley, Becca Roark and Amanda Steineman.
March 19...Salem, 3:30 p.m.
March 21...at Waynesville, 4 p.m.
March 26...at Cuba, 4 p.m.
April 2...Osage JV Meet, 4 p.m.
Page 3 of 3 - April 4...Springfield Girls Inv., 3 p.m.
April 5...Springfield Boys Inv., 3 p.m.
April 8...Marshfield Inv., 4 p.m.
April 9...Salem JV Relays, 3 p.m.
April 13...Capital City Relays, 11 a.m.
April 16...Jefferson City JV Inv., 4 p.m.
April 16...Washington-Nix Relays, 3 p.m.
April 18...Springfield JV Inv., 4 p.m.
April 19...Owensville Relays, 4 p.m.
April 23...Columbia Hickman Relays, 4 p.m.
April 25...St. Clair JV Inv., 4 p.m.
April 27...Rolla Invitational, 9 a.m.
May 2...Ozark Conference Meet at Spring., 4 p.m.
May 11...Class 4 District 5 Meet, 10 a.m. at Camdenton
May 18...Sectional Meet, 11 a.m. tba
May 24-25...Class 4 Championships at Jeff. City.