SPRING PREVIEW: Marshall Tiger track
MARSHALL – Last season, the Marshall boys and girls track and field team recorded another great campaign, with both teams finishing in the top three of their conference.
Track and Field
Fresh off the program’s first Big South Conference Championship last season, the Marshall boys track and field team, under fifth-year coach Dave Sample, will be vying to repeat the impressive feat this year.
Leading up to the season, the focus has been less on their respective events and more on getting the athletes into shape for competition as well as getting them back to full strength with injuries still lingering from the winter sports season.
“Getting off the transition between sports is always kind of a challenge trying to heal up some of the things that they’ve got from the other sports and we’ve got a little bit of that going on where we’ve got just some pulled muscles and things that some of the older kids that were just trying to heal and kind of maintain shape,” he said. “(For) a lot of the younger kids, yes, we’re definitely trying to get kids in shape, get them excited for getting themselves conditioned and hopefully we can encourage them to stay conditioned in the offseason when we don’t get a chance to work with them. That’s definitely always the focus.”
Now weeks into the season and a week removed from a first-place finish at the Panther Invitational, coach Sample has his sights set on the Hamline Meet that serves as a benchmark for their progress with multiple top-echelon programs battling to compete in the event in preparation for the section and state meets.
“Hopefully we can get them qualified for Hamline this year,” he said.” Hamline happens to be kind of an elite meet that you can qualify for. It’s a pretty select field that gets into Hamline and so that’s always a big deal to try to get teams to qualify for that to get them up against some really good competition. It’s really a good benchmark in the midseason.”
As always, the goal for the season is to earn a conference title, but beyond that coach Sample hopes to see his 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams make a trip to state. In addition to the relay teams, coach Sample has high hopes for junior Yahya Black, who has already established himself as one of the best in the section.
“We’re really just trying to see how many kids we can get to extend the season by taking them to state,” he said. “So, if we can get like I said those two relays out and even a thrower then again we’d have probably the most successful season we’ve ever had. So that will definitely be the goal will be to try to extend those eight to nine guys and take them to state that would definitely be the goal.”
Track and Field
On the girls side, the Tigers will be powered by a well-balanced group of veteran senior leaders and talented newcomers.
The Tigers are led by seniors Samantha Nielsen, Maddie Rowe, Kaitlyn Matzner, Kaia Sueker and Amber Tholen. Coach Marie Sample praised the group for their willingness to take time to show their younger teammates all that it takes to be successful at the varsity level.
“(Our) strength would be good experience,” said Sample. “We have some kids that are back who have competed at the state level and they’re willing and currently teaching the younger kids, and just role modeling for them on what it takes to compete at that level.”
Some of the newcomers include ninth graders Clara Bader and Maddie Beckmann, as well as seventh graders Cameen McFarquhar and Allyson Sample, and eighth grader Lucy DeVaan. Coach Sample has been pleased with all of their willingness to work hard and try new things.
“They’ve performed well when we’ve taken them there these first few meets and so we’re kind of excited about them and what they’re going to bring to the team,” she said. “They’re hard workers, they’re willing to try lots of different things and we like that about them. Another one that is a newcomer is Lucy Devaan, she’s an eighth grader, and she’s been doing really well in her long-distance area, which is nice because we could use a little help there in that end.”
The Tigers are coming off of a first-place finish at the Panther Invitational hosted by Tracy this past week that featured eight teams from around the Southwest region. The win at the Invitational, along with upcoming meets like the Hamline Elite meet, will be opportunities for the team to grow and work towards a conference title and perhaps a repeat trip to state.
“(We) just want to continue to get stronger as a team and just to have that environment that we can work hard, and we can accomplish things,” she said. “I just feel like all of our kids no matter where they’re at right now are going to have an opportunity to grow and get better at they’re sport and I’m excited about that.”