It’s no secret to anyone remotely familiar with Carson High track and field that there are some shoes to attempt to fill this season.
Even with extensive historic success on the oval, the Senators will be tasked with picking up where they left off last season even with some key pieces gone to graduation.
Though, Carson won’t be able to easily replace the production of graduated runners such as Abby Pradere, Ashley Britt, Ben Granados and others, the Senators still have plenty of talent looking to form their own history this season.
Head coach Steven Nelms starts his third season in charge of both the Senators’ boys and girls track and field teams and has nearly double the amount of athletes out for the program from his first year.
After having 60-65 students interested in his first year as head coach, Nelms and the rest of the Senator coaching staff will now be directing 120-130 athletes between the boys and girls’ teams combined.
“We’re ahead of where we were last year because we had a great turnout in preseason,” said Nelms. “Last year we had a really, really good year across the board. We have a lot of athletes out, not just track athletes. We’re getting a lot of athletes out there and it’s really helping our program grow from that aspect.”
Senator boys expectations
After finishing seventh last season at the Northern Region Championships as a team, the Senators have several returning members that will look to make a repeat state appearance or fight for their first chance after barely missing the cutoff last season.
“Manny Vasquez is coming back, he just missed regionals,” said Nelms. “Zach Sever should have a great year.”
Sever returns in his senior season after making it to the state meet in the 3,200 last year while Vasquez will look to make an appearance in the shot put after taking sixth at regionals last season.
Jakob Heller returns for his senior season after qualifying for the state meet in the triple jump a year ago as well as sophomore Kai Miller, who just missed a state meet qualification in the pole vault as a freshman.
“Some of those young boys we had last year that were freshman and sophomore, they are really coming on strong this year,” said Nelms. “Nick Batien was a freshman last year on that 4x400 team that went to state.”
Jacob Crossman is the No. 1 400-meter runner coming into the season after battling through some injuries last year, said Nelms.
Hunter Matthies is also expected to do some big things this season after his work in the offseason has carried over into his sophomore season.
Carson’s 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams both qualified for the state meet last season, but each relay group had at least two seniors they’ll have to replace this season.
“Our frosh-soph group is coming up. It’s just going to take some good training and another year or two to let them catch up to the other boys,” said Nelms.
Carson girls track and field outlook
After taking second at the Northern Region Championships as a team last year, the Senators sent eight athletes to the state meet where they scored 54 team points for a second place finish as a collective unit.
The impressive season leaves way to plenty of current Senators’ talent, hoping to recreate last year’s state meet success.
Sophomore sprinter Natalyn Wakeling returns after qualifying for the state meet in the 100-meter dash last season as a freshman.
Taryn Encinas also comes back to the lineup after taking fifth in the 200-meter dash last season at the Norther Region Championships. Annicka Wick was seventh in the same event and is also out for the team in her senior season.
“We have some real strong freshman girls coming up this year and we still have Nat, Encinas and Wick so those girls are strong in the sprints,” said Nelms.
Gabriela Lopez and McKenna Budd, who both barely missed qualifying for the state meet in the 800 last season return for their respective senior and sophomore campaigns.
Hannah Kaiser, who was a state qualifier in cross country this past fall, will be back on the track for her senior season after taking eighth last year in the 3,200 at the Northern Region Championships.
The Senators also sent their 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 meter relay teams to the state meet in 2019, but will be tasked with replacing a couple of seniors on each relay team for the spring of 2020.
“We have some throwers returning this year too, who could make a run at it,” said Nelms. “We just hope to pick up from last season and the goal is always to take as many kids to the state meet as possible.”
Nelms said a big reason why the Senators have had so much success in drawing large groups of athletes to the track is due to the experience and depth of the coaching staff.
“We have great coaches on staff. What they’re coaching is what they ran or did in college. To have that background knowledge to help the kids grow in those areas is vital,” said Nelms.
Robert Maw will be the jumps coach; Ann Britt will serve as an assistant on hurdles; Julie Reid will coach high jump and hurdles; Robin Williams will coach pole vault; Jared Hager will be the throws coach; Brad Wick will assist with sprints while Nicole Castens and Kacie Vermillion will work with the distance runners.
Carson will gets its season started Saturday at home in the Carson League Meet. The Senators will compete in the Class 4A Northern Region Championships this season Saturday, May 9 at Reed High School, which will also host the Class 4A State Championships May 15-16.