Bureau Valley captured a second-place finish in the Three Rivers Conference girls’ track and field championship and landed five State medals in 2012. Instead of building interest in the program, however, the Storm face their smallest number of athletes since the school district was formed in 1995-96.
“Amazing, we got second in the conference and our numbers went down,” longtime Storm coach Dale Donner said.
While the numbers may be down, the talent is not. Of the 12 girls, nine are returning athletes, including three 2012 state qualifiers - Lindsey Hoffert, Reagan Weidner and Katelin Johnson.
Hoffert and Weidner shared 2012 BCR Track Athlete of the Year honors with Hall’s Liz Mosbach. Both were state medalists and BCR Honor Roll leaders.
Weidner placed third in the 3200 and ninth in the 1600 at State and was the Three Rivers champ in both events.
Hoffert is the defending TRAC champ in four events — 100, 200, 400 and long jump. She was state runner-up in the long jump, placed ninth in the 400 and qualified in the 100.
Johnson ran on the Storm’s 4x800 with Weidner that placed 10th.
Sophomore Sydney Lebahn is the top returner in the discus and also throws the shot and triple jumps. Other returners are senior Krista Naaktgeboren (pole vault), junior hurdlers Kelly Sirens and Lauren Peterson and sophs Haley DeVoss (sprints) and Riley Francis (distance). They are joined by freshmen Abby Howes (high jump, hurdles), Sam Stocking (weights) and Savannah Dean (jumps).
BV boys: The Storm boys’ squad has the talent, but boasts strong numbers with 26 able bodies, headed by what coach Nick Hartz calls a very talented group of juniors and seniors.
Senior Logan Hoffert is BV’s only returning medal winner from State last year, placing seventh in the 300 intermediate hurdles and leading the BCR Honor Roll in 41.07. He will also go back to the triple jump when the Storm head outdoors, Hartz said.
Hoffert is one of four Storm athletes who bring back the top performances in the Honor Roll, including juniors Daniel Trone in the 400 (52.94), Kane Eastwood in the 800 (2:04.77) and Ryan Taylor in the 1600 (4:49.53).
The Storm sent two relays to the Indoor Top Times Meet, including the 4x4 which placed fifth on the legs of Kristian Konneck, Tucker Schoff, Hoffert and Trone. The 4x8 of Eastwood, Colton Peterson, Andrew Smith and Taylor also qualified.
“Our 4x8 has most of the kids back from last year’s team and they look motivated to improve on their times and results from last year. There are six kids fighting for a chance on the 4x4 which will only make them better as we move towards the end of the season,” Hartz said.
Other returning lettermen for the Storm are seniors Conor Mooney (hurdles) and juniors Justin Buckman (throws) and Peterson (distance).
Senior Michael Lotspeich (distance) rejoins the team after taking a year off. Other varsity newcomers include junior transfer Dillon Rhodes (sprints, jumps) and classmates Jeremiah Blackert (throws), Kody Church (distance), Joe Fisher (sprints), Andrew Jacobs (throws), Thomas Jarigese (sprints/jumps) and Austin MacQuarrie (throws).
The F/S roster is just eight deep, including sophomores Tyler Gonigam, Garrett Jackson, Keegan Mooney and Chase Pierce (throws) and Charlie Lotspeich (distance).
Hartz said freshmen Will Konneck and Trey Dale have already done some good things indoors and looks forward to seeing what the year has in store for them.
• The Storm squads will venture outside for the first time Tuesday for a coed quad at home vs. Fieldcrest, Henry and Ohio.