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Raiders ready for run at SPSL South title
By CASEY OLSON
The Thomas Jefferson Raider girls track and field team is coming off a 7-2 season in the rugged South Puget Sound League South Division.
The Raiders also return most of their roster this spring, so contending with two-time defending state champion Curtis for the league championship is not out of the question. The two teams showed they are probably the class of the league last week when they tied in their SPSL South opener Thursday afternoon, 70.5-70.5.
With only a few significant losses from last year, our girls team should be the strongest team in my six years of coaching at Thomas Jefferson, head coach Paul Ruston said.
Many of the girls returning for Ruston were a part of TJs fourth-place state finish in cross country, including seniors Jessica Schroeder, Erin Schroeder and Alyson Hunt and juniors Hilorie Hildebrandt and Natalie Jarvey and sophomore Kenna Patrick.
Coming off a podium finish in cross country, our distance girls will lead the way with their strong work ethic and talent, Ruston said.
But the Raiders wont be relying solely on the distance races. Jefferson should have a more well-rounded team this season.
With over 60 girls regularly attending each practice, we should be competitive in every event, Ruston said.
The Raiders also return senior Larissa Smith, who finished sixth in the SPSL in the shot put, and Alison Horne, a district qualifier in the javelin. A strong group of freshman and sophomores should provide a lot of depth.
The Raider boys lost a lot from last years 7-2 team, including the most decorated athlete in the history of the school Kyle Jenkins. Jenkins won the triple jump state championship the last two years and still holds the Washington state record in the event. He is now competing at Indiana University.
But head coach Kevin Hanis returns a pretty solid, all-around group of athletes.
Our team will take a younger look, but those that we have coming out are loaded with talent and they will improve as the season goes along, he said.
Strong returners include sprinter Phillip Bennett, thrower James Presleigh, jumpers Abraham Kinlow and Tim Satterwhite and pole vaulter Zach Argyle. The Raiders top newcomers should be sophomore Tanuj Soni (jumps) and hurdler Lee Allen.
We have a solid nucleus of performers and large numbers for a turnout and a very hard-working group, Hanis said. We have great team chemistry in a sport not noted for being a team sport.
The Titan girls put together a pretty solid opening season last year, rolling to a 3-6 record in the SPSL South. Head coach Jay Cardwell thinks Beamer can improve on that this season.
Starting our second year with 40 girls, we are deeper and a more athletic group than last year, he said. We will be able to compete well as a team within our league.
The Titans return plenty of talented runners, including seniors Jessica Franz, Janae Jones and Jenny Reilly, juniors McKinley Williams, and Sarah Boggs and sophomores Gena Woodke, Alex Herndon and Sammie Mull. Freshmen Joelle Austin, Jordyn Woodke, Tristan Eggers, Brittany Orr and Christina Bergesen should add some depth.
Our keys will be staying healthy, continual improvement throughout the season and increasing our experience in individual events, Cardwell said.
The Titan boys are bigger, stronger and faster than last season, according to head coach Scott Haines. Which isnt a bad situation to be in on a track and field team.
We have some great returners and a more mature bunch of athletes, he said. We expect to finish mid-pack by the league championships. We have over 50 boys this season with lots of young motivated underclassmen.
Senior Stephen Gradden returns and should be one of the better distance runners in the SPSL South. Also back will be junior middle distance runner Tyler Eidsmoe, senior Casey Stallings (discus/pole vault) and sprinter Mike Waller. Newcomer James Tyler should help out in the jumps.
I am excited to continue building a young team and watching our experience and maturity grow, Haines said. We should be a strong