(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Coming off a fourth-place finish on the boys side at last year's Class 3 state championship, this year's Sikeston track team will feature many of the same faces that made last season so successful.
And though the rough early spring weather has hampered the Bulldog's early season conditioning, head coach Terry Flannigan expects his team to be in top form when it comes time to compete for another state title.
"We want by about the end of next month to be about ready to peak," Flannigan said. "So when we get ready to start that month of May we can just try to maintain our conditioning and work on the little things.
"It's the little aspects, the little things that make champions."
Some of the key returners for Sikeston include last year's Standard Democrat Boys Track Athlete of the Year Trey Lewis.
At last season's state championship, Lewis, took first place in the long jump with a leap of 22-feet, 10-inches and second in the triple jump with a length of 46-feet, 8-inches.
Fellow senior jumper Darryl Howard also returns. Howard finished fourth and fifth in the long and triple jump at state respectively.
He'll be joined by other state qualifiers and fellow seniors, such as Ray Clark and Quentin Washington, who made up half of the 800 meter relay team that finished second at state.
Clark also competed in the 100 meter dash at state where he finished 13th while Washington was part of the 1600 meter relay team that finished fourth.
"Our goal every year is we're going to finish fourth or better (at state)," Flannigan said of his expectations for this year's team. And if we can get the No. 1 slot we'll take it with a smile."
Needing to fill those holes left by last year's group of seniors that included Josh Carlyle, Alex Clark and Ismail Johnson, Flannigan hopes a mix of younger kids and newcomers can step in to fill the void.
"Got a few new ones coming out from basketball," he said. "Just going to wait and see if they're going to materialize and everything goes right. Right now it's some of the same people from last year.
"Of course those seniors that we have, they're going to pull them along with us and do what we need to do. Hopefully a few of those younger kids will come on, step up and accept the challenge."
On the girls side, Jalen Peet, Betsy Borgsmiller and Vonteria Applewhite will look to help their team improve on last year's 24th place finish at state.
Borgsmiller was fourth best in state last year in the high jump while Peet took fifth and 11th in the long and triple jump respectively. Applewhite was part of last year's 800 meter relay team that took ninth while finishing 13th in the 200 meter dash.
As the lone senior on the girls' squad, Flannigan is expecting big things from Applewhite.
"She's in a lot better shape than she has been," he said. "So I hope to see some good things from her in the sprint area."
Both the boys and girls teams will open their season's today when they host Charleston and New Madrid County Central at 4 p.m.