With a squad of only nine athletes, Hauser girls track coach April Dalton knows keeping her team healthy will be a key this season.
That hasn’t been the case for the Jets so far this spring. A couple of girls are out with hip injuries, leaving Dalton with a skeleton crew the first week and a half of practice.
“We’ve had quite a few injuries,” Dalton said. “We’ve just been trying to get into shape. We’re going to try to keep our girls healthy and injury-free.”
Back to lead Hauser this season is sophomore hurdler Grace Hasler. Hasler was sectional runner-up and a regional qualifier in the 300-meter hurdles.
Junior Brea Metz was a sectional finalist in the shot put. The Jets also could get a boost from freshman Mackenzie Ault and sophomore Haley Embry in the sprints and junior Naomi Gollmer, a transfer from Frankton, in the middle distance events.
Also looking to contribute this season are freshman Erin Newcomb in the high hump, junior Maleah Bates in the distance events, junior Makenzie Young in middle distance and sophomore Zoe Holley, who could end up in a variety of events.
Hauser finished fourth in the Mid-Hoosier Conference and seventh in the Franklin Sectional last season.
“I would love to get Grace back to regional and get her time down a little bit more,” Dalton said. “We just want to have the girls be successful and improve all through the season.”
The Panthers will begin a new era following the graduation of state 300 hurdles champion and four-time state qualifier Keri Ertel.
“I know Keri was a big scorer, but (boys) coach (Bill) Ludwig and I were talking that we’ll be deeper this year,” Jennings girls coach Leah McLeod said. “We’re going to be competitive for sure.”
The Panthers finished fourth in the Hoosier Hills Conference and second in the Seymour Sectional last season. They’ve nearly doubled the size of the team, with 39 girls competing this season.
Senior Justine Corya was a state qualifier in the 100 and 200 and also will long jump this year. Junior Denza Simpson was a regional qualifier in the 400 and as part of the Panthers’ 4×800 and 4×400 relay teams. Corya, junior Molly Simmons and sophomore Alexis Harsh were part of the regional-qualifying 4×100 relay squad.
Sophomore Emma McPeek returns in the high jump, where she will be joined by freshman Alana Daeger. Promising newcomers included freshmen Marley Stearns in the 400, Ashley Heindel in the 3,200 and 4×800 relay and Kailee Nauert in the 100 and 4×100 relay and junior Nicole Richardson in the 1,600 and 4×800 relay.
“We have a handful of kids that are experienced, and we have a handful of freshmen,” McLeod said. “Our freshmen have impressed me. They’re hungry, and they’re working hard.”
The Eagles will look to continue their streak of Western Indiana Conference championships after capturing their fifth in a row last season.
Brown County lost state pole vault qualifier Emily Brady, but returns several regional qualifiers. Senior Corrissa Proctor, a regional qualifier in the 1,600, is a two-time state qualifier in cross-country.
Sophomore Kathleen McCann was a regional finalist in the 100 and 200, and senior Andi Smith was a regional finalist in the shot put. Junior Elly Wertz was a regional qualifier in the long jump.
McCann and Wertz return from the regional-qualifying 4×100 relay team, and sophomore Vivien Crimmins was on that unit for most of the season. McCann and juniors Ryanne Smith and Jalynn Stanford are back from the regional-qualifying 4×400 relay team; and Proctor, senior Samantha Francis and Stanford return from the regional-qualifying 4×800 relay team.
Junior Haley Abraham and Kiomi Ball could run the 4×800 this season. Freshman Shaelyn Biddle will fill one of the 4×100 relay spots and junior transfer Olivia Lee could contribute in the 400 and 4×400 relay.
“Overall, last year’s team was the best I ever had because we were solid in every event,” Brown County coach Rob Abraham said. “This one is not as solid, but the quality is definitely still there. We lost three major players, but this team is solid. The quality is there, but if the injury bug hit us, since we’re a small school, we could be in a world of hurt pretty quick.”
The only way to go is up for the Lancers, who finished 10th of 10 teams in the MHC and did not score a point in the Franklin Sectional.
New coach Derrick Ball has about 15 girls out for this year’s team. The top returners are junior Blythe Carman in the sprints, sophomore Katelyn Bivens in middle distance and sophomore Emily Davis in the distance events.
Freshman Taylor Tatlock could give Edinburgh a big boost in the sprints and 400.
“We have a few girls who can really do some damage in some events,” Ball said. “We don’t have as many numbers as bigger schools, so it’s going to be hard to score points in every event. But the events that we have girls in, we’re going to be very competitive.”
Hauser boys and girls track
April 4;at Trinity Lutheran (with Crothersville);4:45 p.m.
April 18;at Waldron (with New Palestine and Triton Central);4:30 p.m.
April 21;at Waldron (with Rushville);5 p.m.
April 22;at Edinburgh Relays;5 p.m.
April 25;at South Decatur (with Triton Central);5:30 p.m.
April 26;at Batesville (with North Decatur and Jac-Cen-Del);5 p.m.
May 5;at Brown County (with Indian Creek and Southwestern-Shelby);4:30 p.m.
May 10;MHC at Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.