Jacob Braden, shown above, is just one of the many athletes, who Head Coaches Hector Bencomo and Scott Cleveland will lean on to put up big points this season. Braden will be responsible for teaching new comer Kenny Lesley the ropes of a good high jump.
Although it may not feel as such, spring is right around the corner and with it comes a new season of sports and recreational activities. Among them is Elsberry’s state ranked track team, who with the help of Girls Head Coach Hector Bencomo and Boy’s Head Coach Scott Cleveland, will hopefully see another spot at State Competition.
“We will have approximately 13 girls for track this season, most being return players from last year,” said Bencomo. “There are a few new players, such as Passion Hunter-Edwards [an Elsberry Junior who helped the Elsberry Lady Indians with their winning record during the basketball season]. She will be a great addition to the program this year.”
With the roster filled with mostly juniors and seniors. Bencomo said they should have a descent season, even though they lost some runners to the new all girls soccer team.
“It was to be expected,” said Bencomo. “We were able to think ahead and make some adjustments. However, being able to fill all the events at meets still poses the biggest challenge for this years Track team.”
According to him, it is and will continue to be hard for them to fill all the slots with only 13 girls.
“It’s hard to fill all those slots when you only have 13 kids and when you go to meets and don’t have kids in all the events and placing, it’s kind of hard to win those meets,” explained Bencomo. “This years motto for the young team is simple, ‘Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard enough,’ which is something we have. We may not have the best talent but if they work hard enough, day in and day out, that hard work will over take talent.”
Bencomo went on to say how he believes they will do well in individual events this season with help from players such as Brandy Hall, who is a big asset when it comes to the pole vault and went to state last year.
“We have other individual events like hurdles and even our sprinters should be good this season,” said Bencomo. “I’m thinking we will have some kids place in the top slots and the relays are shaping pretty good.”
One of his biggest concerns is being short at least one runner in every relay. In an effort to try and rectify the problem, Bencomo explained how they are going to focus more on one or two relay’s and move from there.
“This should allow us to concentrate more and if we need to advance we can look at it at that point,” said Bencomo. “This is something we have been through every year and I hope this approach will help us.”
However, it’s not just the girls hoping to excel this season, as Cleveland was proud to announce many return players as well.
“This year we have a lot of returning players, which will help us out quite a bit,” said Cleveland. “Charles Fraction, who will be a key runner in the open 400, the long jump and the 4×4, is one of the fastest guys we have on the team and should score us a lot of points.”
But one big advantage Cleveland said they have is in newcomer Kenny Lesley, who at six-foot-eight should help them earn big points in the high jump competition. According to Cleveland, Lesley should be able to clear six-feet easily and should be in good standing for the state level.
“We also have our other returning 4×4 runners, who took us too Sectionals, which was Rahiem Porter, Terrez Blair, Ethan Miller and Fraction,” said Cleveland. “They are all running in the low 50s’ and are still improving from last season.”
Some of the key players for Cleveland this season will be Miller, who will run in the open 400, like he did last year and the two-mile.
“With some of the younger guys we have this year, like DeVonte Richards, Ben Rhodes and Dillon Zumwalt, we’re trying to get a 4×2 team going, especially since we have more boy’s coming out this year than we have had in the past, so we are able to fill out more events.”
However with the loss of former star Matt Loesing, it is anybody’s guess who will fill the shoes of his talent in the shot put event, as he set and broke the Elsberry School record.
“Loesing had the height and the strength behind him. Do I think we will see someone this season, probably not, but anything is possible,” said Cleveland.
Cleveland said there are a few freshmen that want to try and fill the void, however, according to him, those are some big shoes to fill and it may be awhile before they see someone be able too.
Another key player for the team this year is returning star, Jacob Braden, who helped put up some big points last season and is expected to do the same this year. Not only will he be working with Lesley to better his skills but he will also participate in the Triple Jump and although they will lose Fraction at the end of the year Cleveland said he believes Braden will be a good replacement.
This year’s Girls Track team will be Maggie Spratt, Jamie Cowling, Alayna Conrad, Hannah Arne, Kaylee Calvin, Hunter-Edwards, Tanner Bencomo, Felicia “Flea” Pruitt, Madison Cleveland, Hall, Courtney Orf, Bailey Zimmermann, Melissa Grasso and Olivia Brown.
This year’s Boys Track Team will be Lesley, Kody Skirvin, Porter, Ryan Richardson, Jesse Hall, Rhodes, Zumwalt, Mason Cameron, Richards, Addric DeRoy, Nick Daly, Miller, Braden, Blair, Louis Thurman, Fraction and Deandre Ross.
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