After a history making trip to the state finals last year where the Geneseo girls’ track and field team brought home nine medals, this year’s Lady Leafs are raising their expectations to achieve even more success.
“Our expectations as a team have gone up,” said head coach Phil?Paulson. “In the past, we had been really strong individually, and now I find myself talking about individual pursuits as well as team goals. I never thought we would get to a point where I would say we are looking to win our sectional.”
This season, the Lady Leafs return three of its medal winners from last year in Kaci Storm, Emily Ford and Halle Olson. Other state qualifiers who return for another year are: Darrian?Hartman, Jamie DeFauw, Hannah Waller, Maggie Schlindwein and Paige Gatter.
“There is a lot of potential with our returners, and we also have an exciting group of freshmen with some girls who have competed at state at the IESA level,” said Paulson.
“Practice is going really well, and I am happy with our start. We have about 40 girls out and they are working hard.”
This year’s group of seniors include: Britta Conrad, Jacque DeFauw, Gatter, Hartman, Hannah Lohman, Catherine Nelson, Jessica Stoneking and Storm.
“Leadership is always important for seniors, and?I am looking for them to be role models,” said Paulson.
The junior members of the team are: Kelcey Adams, Kirsten?Backes, Courtney Cutlip, Amber Fobert, Ford, Anna Madigan, Kristina Medema, Sarah?Noble, Erin Peterson, Allishia Rahn, Schlindwein, Waller and Noelle Zumbrock.
The sophomores looking to make an impact are: Audrey Anderson, Cortney Backes, Megan DuBois, Jamie DeFauw, Sarah Dellet, Morgan Kelly, Katie Lynch and Olson.
Newcomers to the squad are freshmen: MacAllister Blakley, Mikayla Bowton, Adison?Cunningham, Abby Frank, Ashley Kempher, Samantha Mannon, Carlie Newton, Katie Puls, Hanna Vanderheyden, Alexis West and Anna Wise.
“This freshman class is a pretty talented group,”?said Paulson. “I don’t like to have too high of expectations too early, but it will be interesting to see if they can step up to the plate and perform right away. There is potential there.”
Coach Paulson stated that his team is more experienced than inexperienced, but the Lady Leafs do have some holes to fill, especially in the field.
“We have a lot of holes to fill in the triple and long jumps,” said Paulson. “We are rebuilding in the field areas, and we are shifting some people around.
“Our throwers do have experience, which includes Audrey Anderson, who has experience and is at the same point Amanda Egan was her sophomore year.”
The strengths for the Lady Leafs this season in the field will be in the pole vault. On the track, Geneseo’s hurdlers are an area of strength, as well as the distance runners.
Coach Paulson said he would like to see his team repeat its level of competition they had in competition at conference last year. He also said at sectionals, the Lady Leafs have a shot to do well and at state he would like to see the girls improve on their ninth-place finish.
“I think the medalists and qualifiers realize as a team the expectations and are stepping up,” said Paulson. “They see in the long term that they can be successful.”
As far as the outlook of the conference this year, Kaneland and Yorkville are both always strong competitors, but Paulson believes his girls will be in the hunt again, but with more confidence.
Last season, the Lady Leafs won the first NIB 12 Conference title with individual conference championships from Storm in the 100 and 300 hurdles and Amanda Egan in the shot put and discus. The girls sent 11 to the state finals after they finished second as a team at the Rock Island Sectional.
At state, the team finished ninth, the highest team finish in school history and brought home nine medals. Egan took second in the discus at 125-2 and sixth in the shot put at 38-8 3/4, while Storm came in fifth in the 100-m hurdles in 15.39 and sixth in the 300 hurdles at 45.83. The 4x400-m relay of Katie Eastburn, Ford, Olson and Storm placed seventh in 4:06.64, while Ford came in ninth in the 800-m run in 2:20.15.
Other state qualifiers included Hartman, pole vault; Jamie DeFauw, high jump; the 4x100-m relay of Eastburn, Jade Collins, Waller and Storm; Eastburn, 400-m dash; Schlindwein, 1600-m run; and Gatter, 3200-m run.
Geneseo at Knox Invite
The Lady Leaf track team captured five first-place finishes in the squad’s first meet out of the gates for the 2012 season Feb. 24 at the Knox College Invitational.
Hartman won the pole vault for Geneseo as she cleared 10-6, while the 4x800-meter relay of Adams, Kelly, Fobert and Gatter crossed the finish line in first with a time of 10 minutes and 32.20 seconds.
Storm won 55-m hurdles and the 200-m dash with times of 8.60 and 28.00, respectively, while Bodeen captured first in the 55-m dash in 7.10.
In second place were Stoneking, high jump, 4-6; Madigan, pole vault, 7-0; Hartman, triple jump, 32-4 1/2; the 4x200-m relay of Bodeen, Waller, Puls and Kirsten?Backes, 1:57.80; Ford, 400-m dash, 1:5.70; and the 4x400-m relay of Ford, Olson, Wise and Bowton, 4:37.30.
Rounding out the Top 3 finishes were Anderson, shot put, 31-7 1/4 and Olson, 400-m dash, 1;08.70.
Additional Track Results
55-m hurdles- Waller, fourth, 9.40; Wise, sixth, 9.70; and Cortney Backes, seventh, 10.50. 55-m dash- Puls, fifth, 7.80; Mannon and Kempher, 10th, 8.10; Newton, Cunningham and Medema, 13th, 8.30; Kirsten?Backes, 16th, 8.40; Frank, 18th, 8.50; Peterson, 20th, 8.60; and West, 25th, 8.80. 800-m run- Schlindwein, sixth, 2:46.30. 4x200-m relay- Medema, Kempher, West and Peterson, fifth, 2:06.00. 400-m dash- Wise, fourth, 1:09.00; Fobert, sixth, 1:10.80; Bowton, seventh, 1:11.70; Adams, eighth, 1:12.00; and Frank, ninth, 1:12.60. 1600-m run- Gatter, fourth, 5:51.0 and Dellet, ninth, 6:14.0. 200-m dash- Bodeen and Kempher, fifth, 29.30; Waller, seventh, seventh, 29.60; Puls, eighth, 29.70; Mannon, 12th, 31.00; Cunningham, 13th, 31.50; Medema, 15th, 32.10; Kirsten?Backes, 16th, 32.20; Frank, 18th, 32.70; West, 21st, 33.20; Newton, 24th, 33.40; and Peterson, 28th, 34.40.
Additional Field Results
Shot put- Zumbrock, ninth, 24-11 3/4 and Stoneking, 10th, 24-5 1/2. Long jump- Storm, fourth, 15-2; Kempher, seventh, 14 1/2; Mannon and Lohman, ninth, 12-10 3/4; West, 12th, 12-1; and Nelson, 13th, 11-10 1/4. Pole vault- Nelson, fifth, 5-6. Triple jump- Lohman, sixth, 30-3 1/2; Cortney Backes, seventh, 29-11; and Newton, 25-11 1/2.
The?Lady Leafs will be in action this weekend in the Sterling Gold Medal Invite at 9 a.m. March 3.