A year ago, the St. Helena High track and field team boasted one its largest teams ever.
The Saints began the spring with 47 athletes – the most since 2013, when they had a full roster of about 45, according to head coach Dave Pauls.
Granted, last year’s team thinned out a bit as the year progressed – the Saints finished the year with a roster of just under 40 athletes. But a year later, that increase proved to be a sign of things to come.
This year, the Saints have more than 50 athletes on the team. As of Tuesday, their roster size stands at 52 strong.
“It’s a little daunting,” said Pauls on Monday. “In track and field, you have so many events to cover, it’s not just running. You don’t just go tell kids to run; you’re teaching kids specific skills.”
But like it was a year ago, it’s a problem Pauls is happy to have.
The Saints have seen an increase in turnout across the board, but mainly on the girls’ side. It’s the third straight year that their numbers have increased and Pauls said that will bode well as they compete for a league title against schools like Middletown and Fort Bragg, which always field large teams.
“I’ve told them not only do they have numbers, but the quality of athletes that are there is quite impressive,” Pauls said of the Saints. “If they really put their mind to it, they could be very competitive for a league championship and even further than that.”
Aside from the increase on the girls side, the heightened number of athletes will help the Saints in field events – an area where they’ve routinely come up short against larger teams. Pauls figures once they fill those gaps, they’ll be a more complete team.
“I think we have all the bases covered,” he said. “But one thing we’re trying to emphasize this year more than in years past is field events, and really recognizing that on the track we’ve been so strong and so successful and scored lots of points and lots of first places, we’ve really kind of been lacking in the field event area.”
The Saints are also returning a load of talent from last year. Senior sprinter Ryan Searl and hurdler Jacob Lehman are two of a handful of athletes coming off of appearances at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions, and will once again lead a strong group on the boys’ side. Senior Jordan Reilly, coming off of an appearance at the cross country五福彩票App下载 state meet in the fall, figures to be the boys’ top distance runner once he returns from injury.
You have free articles remaining.
Lehman and Searl will also be rejoined by sophomore Ivan Robledo on a 4x100-meter relay team that set the school record last season. Missing from that group will be senior Cody DiTomaso, who will likely be out the entire season due to surgery to mend a shoulder injury he suffered during football season.
Aside from Searl, Lehman and Reilly, the boys’ other seniors this year are Ryland Campos, Quinn Randall-Darter and Erik Martinez Alcala. The juniors are Jordi Garcia, Conlan Harrington, William Wesner, Fawad Muhammad, Irwin Ramirez Palma and Angel Rodriguez-Gutierrez. The sophomores are Clayton Burton, Charles Carpy, Moises Gallegos, Francisco Arias, Robert Przybylinski, Kai Randall-Darter, Logan Uhlig and the aforementioned Robledo. Rounding out the boys roster are freshmen Jadon Meyer, Clayton Crean, Brandon Diaz Fregoso, Juan Garcia Alvarez, Julian Martinez, Cleo McClain, Keaton Smith, Weston Staid Leonardo and Rodriguez Guzman.
Flipping to the girls’ side, all eyes will likely be on junior distance phenom Harper McClain to see what she can accomplish this spring after an historic first year on the track. She’s coming off winning the school’s first state title in cross country五福彩票App下载 in the fall and is predicted to be not just one of the top girls distance runners in the section but in the entire state.
She’ll lead a strong corps of distance runners supported by fellow junior standouts Jade Schlatter and Aliyah Flamson Rubalcava.
“The distance team is going to be really strong,” Pauls said.
He feels the girls sprinters have plenty of upside as well.
“I think the sprint corps with the girls returning from last year, like Grace Schlangen and Samantha (Uribe) and Cydney Adamson and Sienna Beringer, those girls are going to carry the sprint-hurdle part of the team.”
Pauls also reported that, thanks to a new influx of girls, they should be able to score some needed points in field events like the shot put or discus.
The seniors this year are Paulina Bautista, Eva Eisentraut and Kristina Isdahl. The juniors are Adamson, Anahi Almanza Tapia, Beringer, Sarah Fader, Schlangen and Harper McClain. The sophomores are Fiona Crowley, Anjali Felder, Kaylee Moura, Tuuli Muessel, Brenna Pauls, Ashtlyn Taylor, Sophia Trujillo and Uribe, while the freshmen are represented by Eva Bowen, Rowan Laird, Olivia Smith and Alice Wrede.
A contingent of around 30-35 athletes was supposed to make the trip to Alhambra High School for the Tim Bruder Relays but the meet was cancelled late Tuesday night due to coronavirus concerns. As of Wednesday, next week’s Napa Valley Invite at St. Helena High between Vintage, Justin-Siena and Calistoga is still on as scheduled.
Pauls has high hopes this spring for the team as a whole, but also believes the team’s top athletes, such as Harper McClain and Searl, could be in store for special seasons individually as well.
“They’re right up there, if not exceeding any of the athletes that we’ve coached before,” Pauls said. “I mean, having Harper make it to state last year and come back this year after her successful cross country五福彩票App下载 season, I think she kind of has something to prove in coming back the second year and repeat or prove herself that that first year wasn’t a fluke. She’s the real deal.
“And then Ryan is coming into his senior year and he’s had a vision and a goal of making it to state since he was a freshman. If everything kind of works out and he stays healthy and keeps making progress, who knows what the potential is? But we have two CIF-caliber track athletes.”
Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.