When runners from around Marion County take their mark today at the CVB Invitational in Bridgeport, they are hoping their first steps out of the starting blocks set them up for strong runs to the state meet.
Last season all three Marion County girls’ teams finished in the top 15, with North Marion placing fourth, Fairmont Senior taking 10th and East Fairmont finishing 12th. Here’s what the schools are expecting in 2014.
North Marion bigger, also better?
North Marion sent more than 20 runners to the meet last year, the most in school history. This season, the team has almost doubled in size, and coach Keri Bland is hopeful that so too will the Huskies’ success.
“We have a lot of incoming freshmen this year,” she said. “We're hoping for a lot of growth and depth with the number of new people coming in.”
The Huskies’ relays were the strength of the team last season, with the 4x100 and 4x200 teams both taking first place in Class AA. Junior McKenzi Fisher, sophomore Marlee Angleucci and senior Alexis Hillberry are all returning for the two events.
North Marion will have to fill the opening created when Kaitlyn Conaway graduated. She took third in the 200-meter dash in addition to helping both relay teams win state titles.
“We’re trying to see who can fill that spot,” said Bland. “We’re looking at a couple of freshmen. Madison Haught might also step up into one of those spots.”
Haught, who also made it to states in the 100 hurdles, and Hillberry, who took ninth in the 400, also teamed up to help North Marion to third place in the 4x400 last year.
However, that relay team lost two key pieces: Conaway and Emma Harrison, a distance runner who took second in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
To replace Harrison in distance, the Huskies will turn to a number of those fresh faces, especially freshman Taylor Trowbridge. She earned a trip to the state meet in cross country earlier this year and is hoping for a similar result this spring.
“She made it to states for cross country, so we’re hoping we can get her to state in track, too,” Bland said.