It will be a year of disparity for the Anaconda High track team, as first-year head coach Dustin Hanson looks up and down his roster for the coming season.
The Copperheads will hit the ground running and jumping with a team that is 30 members strong. Twenty-six are boys.
“I didn’t see that coming and I don’t think, in the history of the school, we have had that low of a number of girls,” Hanson said. “The enrollment is declining and girls are playing softball and tennis, so as long as they are doing something.”
The girls’ team was led by Mia Estes last season, who finished eighth in the Class A final standings.
With less than a handful of girls to go around this time, matching that kind of success might be hard to do. Yet, they are trying to keep the season in perspective.
“It’s pretty much about helping each other out,” Khali Knadler said. “The four girls should do pretty well this year. We will do a lot of different events so it should be fun.”
The boys tied for 17th place in last year’s final standings but with plenty of talent on hand, the Copperheads could see an improvement during the final week of May. What they will need to do is get adjusted to another leader’s voice.
“We seem motivated this year but it’s been tough with this being our third new coach in four years,” senior Aidan Theard said. “It’s been a struggle with that, but we should get through it. We know our coaches, but different coaches have different styles so you just have to get used to the new style.”
Having been around the program for the past couple of seasons, Hanson believes the familiarity factor can only help.
“I assisted the last two years but from last year, when Dustin Keltner was the coach, we haven’t changed much,” Hanson said. “He did a good job. It helped me a lot and helped me with the transition. My assistant coaches are great too.”
Hanson has high expectations for both teams regardless of difference in numbers.
“The boys could make some noise,” he said. “We have some good athletic individuals that could score at state.
“For the girls they should just go for it.”
Maroon thinclads headed for Dillon
One thing about the Butte Central track team looks a bit different this season … there’s a lot of them than have been seen in a few years.
Butte Central head track and field coach Zach Stajcar said he’s got 10 girls and 25 boys out for the team this spring, plenty more than he’s had in recent campaigns.
“We won’t have to be pulling any of the big guys away from the throws to fill a relay team,” Stajcar said with a smile.
The Maroons will see their first action of the season – weather permitting – Saturday morning in Dillon at Vigilante Field. The meet is slated for a 9 a.m. start.
Though the Maroons have had only a handful of outdoor practices thus far this spring, Stajcar has high hopes for his crew.
“Overall as a group, this is probably the most athletic and talented group of kids we’ve had here it the last five or six years,” he said. “The thing about these kids is, if you ask them to do something they just do it. They’re here to work hard.”
Another difference from years past Stajcar noted is his team’s overall health.
“The big thing is we aren’t beat up and sore like we’ve been,” he said, noting that he intends to keep his athletes healthy as well as he can. “We’re going to try to avoid injuries and fight through the whole season.”
Stajcar said the idea for Saturday’s meet will be for athletes to pick out two or three events in the chilly weather as opposed to “loading up with five.”
“We’re not up to full speed yet,” he said. “This meet will be a bit of a tester to see where we are.”
On the boys’ side of the track, the Maroons look to senior Wyatt Kingston for speed in the short races, while sophomore Kyle Harrington also brings some wheels with State meet experience. Danny Peoples will run a sprint or two, Stajcar said, as well as competing in the high jump and javelin.
Junior Conor McGee leads the Maroons in the distance events, and should be competitive in the 1,600 and 3,200.
The weights will see juniors Marcus Ferriter and Kaemen Richards, along with a host of freshmen and sophomores who will get a chance to display their abilities.
Central’s girls are led by senior javelin specialist Chandra McCurdy, who brings State meet experience, as well as sophomore sprinter Whitney McGree. Rachel McGree steps in as one of Butte Central’s first true hurdlers in a while, as Abby McGee and Rachel Banks round out the distance events for the Maroons.
“The girls are spread out, and we’ve got talent in the running, jumping and throws,” Stajcar said.