The Princeton Tigresses track team has some big shoes to fill, but athletes like Phoenix Smallwood, Zoe Mead and Sierra Storm are ready to try them on for size. They are among nine returning letterwinners coach Pat Hodge is looking to help to carry the torch from the graduated Kara Birch, C.J. Rhodes, Emma Makransky and Laura Fredenhagen.
“Together, Kara and C.J., our Malden girls, covered every track event as well as a couple of jumping events. C.J. was our leading scorer three years in a row. They will be tough to replace,” Hodge said. “Phoenix, Zoe and Sierra all bring back some state meet experience, which is a plus.”
Smallwood qualified for state in both the triple and long jumps last year and is geared for another run, giving up soccer this spring to concentrate solely on track. She has qualified for state in each of her first three years.
Mead has started up ahead of where she was last year, already breaking the PHS indoor record in the 800 meters with a 27.32 clocking. She has been to state twice in the 4x800, anchoring PHS’ medal effort in 2011. Storm was also a part of that 4x800 a year ago.
Both Smallwood and Mead qualified for the Illinois Prep Top Times Indoor championships, being held this weekend in Bloomington.
Senior Taylor Smith returns as a three-year letterwinner. Other returning letterwinners are junior Frances Bowman (spring relays, jumps) and sophomores Taylor Clark, Nicole Holland and Colbi Schertz in weights and Ann Sims (sprints, jumps, hurdles). Also back in the fold are sophomore Ashley Rivera (sprint) and junior Annette Knudsen (sprints) and Kelsey Moore (sprints).
The Tigresses gained a pair of senior newcomers in Emmalee Sears (weights), who comes over from soccer, and Kathryn Krieger. The freshman class brings in Anna Allen (sprints), Elise Blocki (sprints, long jump), Kira Harp (sprints, long jump, hurdles), Miriam Moore (hurdles, jumps), Hailey Schultz (sprints, jumps) and Tieg Sisler (hurdles, sprints, HJ) round out the roster.
PHS boys: While the Tigers may be young, coach Dan Foes said they have great leadership in place with their four seniors — Cody Griffin, Austen Stewart, Coliin Schertz and Derrick Wooden. They are all four-year track members and are divided up in different areas of the team.
Wooden is a valuable sprinter, Foes said while Schertz is a strong utility man of the team able to run different kinds of events. Griffin is the top returner from the BCR Honor Roll in the discus as is Stewart in the high jump.
Stewart is making great strides during the indoor season, “climbing the hill,” according to Foes, from 6-4 in his first meet, then to 6-6 and now 6-8 in his last meet at Galesburg. He came up short on his bid to make state last year but is primed to make his way back after placing fourth in Class 1A as a sophomore.
Austen is one who has been very consistent for us in his four years. Two years ago his talent showed through with a fourth-place finish at state. He is highly motivated to get back this year,” Foes said.
Junior Caleb Strom is the top returning sprinter in both the 100 and 200 in the BCR Honor Roll as are junior Zach Andersen (3200) and sophomore Drew Pranka (pole vault). Other returning juniors include Jordan Sissel (weights) and Jesse Clift (pole vault).
While low in numbers (5), Foes said his sophomore class is talented. He said the freshman class of 13 strong, including Cai Tomaszewski (sprints), John Mead (hurdles) and Luke Marselle (jumps), bodes well for the future and adds good depth.
“This year will be very exciting to see the development of our young athletes and see our older athletes compete. This is a very hard working group that I believe is going to develop very well,” Foes said.
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