As winter begrudgingly gives way to spring, the high school track is clear of snow and Whitefish’s fastest athletes have already laced up their cleats for another run at a state title.
The Whitefish High School boys track team enters the season as defending Class A state champions. While key members of the championship team have graduated — including All-State standouts Logan Harwood and Jace Kalbfleisch — the Bulldogs are reloaded with talent.
Seven All-State athletes return to lead the Dogs this year.
Whitefish coach Derek Schulz likes how his roster of 45 boys is shaping up.
“They got a lot of experience last year,” he said. “If they take a step up, they’ll have a chance at earning another trophy.”
Schulz isn’t worried about coming into the season with a target on their backs as defending champs.
“I think we can come in under the radar — other teams know we lost Logan and Jace. Under the radar is where we like to be.”
All-State seniors Sean Foley and Gage Smith will provide leadership.
“We’ll need to rely on Sean and Gage for their senior leadership and use their focus on team that they developed last spring and used in football last fall,” Schulz said.
The same goes for senior basketball standouts Keaton Nicholson and EJ Havens, Schulz added.
“I feel good about our leadership,” he said.
Look for multi-sport athletes Luke Cardon, Keaton Grove, Jed Nagler and Luke May to pick up critical points for the team.
The Lady Bulldogs placed fourth overall at state last year and look even stronger this season.
Leading a fleet of sprinters will be senior Marlow Schulz, who last year swept the sprint races at state — her second time accomplishing that feat.
This year, look for Marlow to add some longer distances to her repertoire.
“For sure the 800,” coach Schulz said about his daughter.
The team is loaded with proven sprinters — sophomore Allie Schulz, senior Phoebe Guercio, and soccer standout Grace Kurtz — which will give coach Schulz flexibility in crafting teams for the relay events.
Distance runner Sarah Latcham comes into the season as a favorite in the 800 after taking fourth at state last year.
The team will look to Guercio, Marlow Schulz, Ella Kobelt, Erin Tabish and Bekah Weaver for senior leadership.
“Those girls are all excited for this season,” Schulz said. “And they all compete in different areas.”
Whitefish opens the track season April 5 at the Gene Hughes meet in Corvallis.
Schulz says it will be a low-key event with many students on spring break.
“We just want to get an opportunity to get on the track,” he said.