The University and Central Valley girls track teams finished second and third in the Greater Spokane League last year.
The Titans lost a narrow decision to Mead that prevented them from winning a league title.
This year the teams could face more than a challenge from the Panthers.
Both Ferris and Shadle Park are improved and University will find out how much when they travel to Ferris next Thursday against the pair.
“We expect to be contenders,” said Titan coach Steve Llewellyn. “Our strength is certainly in the sprints and relays and that is important.”
Central Valley will rely on a number of freshmen and sophomores, but coach Dennis McGuire isn’t concerned.
“We’re a lot younger than last year,” he said. “Strength-wise we’ll be about the same.”
CV hosts North Central and Gonzaga Prep in its opener.
U-Hi sprinter leads the way
Fourth-year sprint star Katharine Hough leads the Titans into GSL battle this year.
She placed in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at state and was a member of two school record-setting relay teams, including the state’s third best 4x200 relay unit.
“Katharine has improved every year but when you run 12.1 and 25.3 where do you go?” asked Llewellyn. “I see improvement in the 100 and certainly in the 200.”
In seniors Lora Auch and Shari Millard, juniors Adrienne Wilson and Heather Silvey, sophomores Kalie Cossette and Betsy Walter, plus freshman Jamie Miller, the short races through 400 meters are covered.
A large distance turnout includes crosscountry stars junior Lindsay Daehlin, sophomore Kelly Kearsley and freshman Robyn Cross. Depth will come from juniors Shanna Delong, Angela Harmon, sophomore Taraka Campbell and frosh Leah Brereton, Kelly Pierce and Heather Harris.
The throws are another U-Hi strength, including three 37-foot-plus shot putters.
Included are seniors Kirsten Hess and Alisha Powers, the latter slowed by a basketballrelated knee injury, and junior Syd Perno. They also throw the discus.
Others are sophomore shot putter Cheryl Bierwagen and discus thrower Erin Simonson.
Javelin is covered by 115-foot thrower Tracie Vlahovich and Cammie Bierwagen.
Wilson is not only a 12.6 100 runner but a state caliber 17-5 long jumper as well. She leads a group of prospects that include Cossette, junior Kim Meyers sophomore Nicole Valentine and freshman Jenn Madsen.
Triple jumpers include Eleni Damascus, a junior, and Andrea Bouge a senior.
A number of high jumpers are vying to back 5-2 leaper Dawn Clipperton, a senior. They include sophomore Tonya Walker, freshmen Megan Kobs, Courtney Red, Jessica Coombes, Jessica Thome and Jenn Deilke.
Finding hurdlers to join Genera Guinn is a priority. Freshmen Pierce, Breanne Spunich, Tara Hulbert and sophomore Pam Finnegan, said Llewellyn, all have talent.
University has been ranked among the top 10 dual teams in state for a decade and Llewellyn foresees no change.
“We’ll be a good dual meet team,” he said. “We’ll also be a good big meet team.”
CV rich in the distances
As young as the Bears are, they still have a number of talented returnees.
Included is sophomore sprinter Whitney Schmaljohn and a distance crew that McGuire said, “can run with anybody.”
Featured are Sandra White, Melissa Sherwood, Jenni Saling, Jenny Wigen, Heather Burrow, freshmen Annie Peterson, Holly Darcy and Bethanne Williams.
“I’ve never had this depth in track before, ever,” said McGuire.
Finding sprint backing is a priority and much of it will come from freshmen such as Sabrina Page and Karrie Van Dinter.
Junior Arlene Miller returns as one of the league’s better 400 runners.
With Molly and Marcy MacPhee the hurdles events will be covered.
“We’re strong in the hurdles,” said McGuire. “The sprints I don’t know about.”
Central Valley also has good jumpers with Dawn and Danelle Frisby in the high jump, sophomores Sarah Bialkowsky, Shelly Cunanan, Angie Dahlgren and Heidi Hulet in the horizontal jumps.
Throws may be a concern now that Carrie Sanders, among the league’s best javelin throwers, switched to softball.
McGuire said the weight events will be built around Kristina McAuley, a junior and the most experienced returnee.
Others are juniors Geralyn Klein, Heather Reynen, freshmen Mary Caruso, Annie Moseanko and Kim Jordin as well as injured distance runner, junior Brandi Hemmings.
“I’m going to enjoy all that youth,” said McGuire. “Hopefully they’ll stick with it and find out they’re track athletes.”