It wasn’t too long ago when Andover track and field coach Mike Lee barely had enough girls to score points at the varsity level.
Depth still isn’t a luxury, but top-end talent is and the Trojans have become a threat to win a team trophy in Class 5A with individuals like Jaylyn Agnew, Nikki Zielinski, Carly Flake, Gloria Mares, Nicole Klusener, and Mia Hays.
“The problem has been keeping them all healthy,” Lee said. “Just about all of them have dealt with injuries this season, so we’re doing our best to get them back to full strength for these last few meets.”
Agnew is the two-time defending champion in the high jump and could score points at state in the 200-meter dash if her problematic hamstring allows her to. Hays also has an ongoing battle with an injury, but her first triple jump of the season (35 feet, 5 inches) inspires hope that she can medal at state.
Zielinski and Flake have teamed together to become a potent 1-2 combination in any of the distance races, particularly the 1600 and 3200. Klusener has potential to score in the high jump, as does Mares in the 100.
And the Trojans have the capability of putting together a competitive 400 relay team (51.46).
“You’d like to think that we might be able to do that,” Lee said of winning a trophy. “I think all those girls have the potential to score at state and we’ve posted a lot of good marks already this season that we’d like to think would hold up at state. You never know what’s going to happen at the state meet, but it’s a good feeling to know we have a very good chance of doing it.”
Andover will compete in the Goddard Invitational on Friday.
Navarro’s growth — A season after recognizing her potential when she finished fifth in javelin at state, East’s Andrea Navarro has become dedicated to improving on that finish.
Navarro has dipped below the 130-foot mark just once this season after surpassing it just once last season. That type of consistency has Navarro in position to move up this year in Class 6A, where she has the second-best mark this season.
“She just put in the work,” East coach Michael Draut said. “She worked really hard in the offseason and I think that’s where the consistency comes from. She’s able to throw at a higher level now because she’s worked at it and gotten a lot stronger.”
Navarro, who has signed to throw at Wichita State, has posted a season-best mark of 137 feet, 3 1/4 inches that she will look to extend Friday at the Derby Invitational.
Hive of Hornets — It’s not uncommon to see as many as three Valley Center runners cross the finish line together in distance races.
Valley Center has forged a reputation as a strong girls running program in recent seasons, and it has only grown stronger with Madison Breault, Kalie Owens, Kayla Barton and Shelby Marten leading the way this season.
“It’s exciting for the team and those are the races we look forward to as a staff because we know they’re always going to do well,” first-year coach Caleb Smith said. “They’re a good group of girls and they’re a lot of fun to watch compete.”
The Hornets will be in action Friday at the Goddard Invitational.