GCHS head track coach Dennis Wells said that more than 60 athletes have shown up for practice this week. “We have about 34 boys and 30 girls on the team so far, including some who are playing other spring sports,” Wells said.
After taking the 2A state titles in both 2011 and 2012, the Red Devil boys finished sixth overall in state in 2013. Wells said he hopes this year’s team will be able to contend among the top spots at region and state.
Among the returning athletes for the Red Devil boys is junior javelin thrower Richie Cordero, who is ranked No. 1 in the preseason rankings, according to Wells.
In addition, senior distance runner Jacob Francis, who is also playing soccer, is back in action. Francis missed most of last year’s track season to injury, including the state meet. Joining Francis in the longer distance races will be fellow senior Jackson Knowles. “Jackson should also be a big help,” Wells said.
Seniors Cameron Taylor and Koi Cook, who both also play baseball, are expected to participate in track as sprinters, Wells said, adding that he also expects junior Koby Sobremesana and a handful of other soccer players to contribute in similar fashion.
Also for the Red Devil boys, senior Andy Bathemess is currently ranked No. 1 in the 300-meter hurdles, an event in which he placed second at the state meet last year. Bathemess is also ranked third in the 110-meter hurdles. Fellow senior Wade Kemmsies is ranked fourth in the 300-meter hurdles and fifth in the 110-meter hurdles.
Kemmsies and Bathemess are also part of a 4x400 meter relay team that is ranked No. 1 in the preseason. They will be joined by senior Jordan Bryant and junior Mason Tranter.
GCHS seniors Edgar Gomez and David Bentley are among those expected to contend in the discus and shot put throwing events.
In addition to a host of experienced athletes, there are a few newcomers to Grand’s squad. Senior Hunter Stitzer, who just completed basketball season for the Red Devils, said he’s never done competitive track before. “I’m just trying it out,” Stitzer said, adding, “Coach has me down for the high jump on Saturday, but I don’t have the technique down yet.”
For the Lady Devils, who also finished second in region and sixth in state last year, several key contributors are expected to return.
“We have three of the top five ranked discus throwers in 2A,” Wells said, referring to seniors Kayeley Wells and Madison Stocks, plus sophomore Brittnee Lewis.
Senior Tiffanie Whipple is ranked second in the long jump and fourth in the 100-meter hurdles in the preseason rankings, Wells said.
In addition, junior Kasey Betts is ranked No. 2 in the high jump, but currently has an injured foot and is expected to be sidelined for at least a month, Wells added. Betts’ sisters, senior Haley Rice and sophomore Hannah Rice, are also expected to fill key spots in short races and relays.
“We’re still hoping to get some more girls to try out,” Wells said. “We need some middle-distance runners for the 400.”
Other Lady Devils expected to make contributions include senior sprinter and javelin thrower Malina Bohannon, senior distance runner Mercedes James, and senior runner Shailee Croasmun, who also has some experience with throwing discus.
Following the March 8 meet at Moab, the Red Devils’ next scheduled track meet will be the Kayenta Invitational at Kayenta, Ariz. on Tuesday, March 18.