Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect Sidney Vancil attending the University of Iowa.
What do you get when you mix in a batch of fresh faces, a pinch of experience and a dab of unknown waters? A whole lot of positive possibilities.
At least that is the case for Matt Hardy, the Perry Jayettes head track coach.
Hardy is looking forward to what this season’s mixture of young talent can accomplish after not only losing two essential parts of last year’s recipe but also a squad a little short on experience.
“There are 31 girls on the track team this spring, only four are seniors, Alondra Avila, Savanna Benton, Stephanie Garcia and Lainey Thomason (all who have very little to no varsity track experience),” he said.
Of his 31 athletes, Hardy noted that six Jayettes decided to additionally share their talents among other Perry teams.
“I have six girls that have made the decision to dual-sport,” he said, “Five of them are playing soccer and one is playing golf.”
Juniors Magley Orellana and Katelyn Saldana, along with sophomores Cris Gomez, Jasmine Shriver and Michelle Tobar will lend their leg to the soccer squad. Fellow sophomore Kennedy Tunink will swing for the greens with the golf club. Currently, Shriver and Tobar aren’t on the roster.
The extra workload for these players isn’t a big concern for Hardy, who sets the bar high and knows those girls will work hard to attain it.
Both Shriver and Orellana, along with sophomore Quinn Whiton, should perform at a high level in the 100, 200, 400 and long jump, acknowledged the head coach. There will be several girls that join those three girls in the relays. Some of them being Tunink, sophomore Cindy Troung and freshmen Alyssa Grow and Peyton Tunink.
One runner, a freshman, might be looked at to fill the now empty long distance running shoes once donned by last year senior and state qualifier Grace Stewart.
“Jaylene Karolus qualified for state cross country in the fall and I anticipate she will be a great competitor in the 3,000, just like Grace Stewart had been the previous four seasons,” Hardy said.
There is one event the coach is still a little unsteady about. The 800 distance event is, for now, at a crosshair with last year senior Sidney Vancil now attending University of Iowa.
“With Sidney Vancil’s graduation, we are very untested at the 800 distance,” Hardy said. “It will be interesting to see who has the mental toughness to step into her role as the anchor of our relays.”
Hardy has already been hard at work developing his athletes and analyzing who will step up and take on a leadership role. Since March 22, the squad has competed in coed invitationals on March 22, 28, April 2 and 4.
The team heads to Carroll on April 8 for their fourth coed invite, this time hosted by Raccoon River conference foe, Tigers.