By George Ferguson/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Spring has finally arrived in Havre and that means it's time for the high school track and field season to get under way. For the Havre High track team the season will officially kick off on Saturday morning when the Ponies travel to Glasgow for the Glasgow Scottie Invitational.
The Havre High boys team is loaded with talented athletes and a lot of experienced seniors so things could shape up to be very promising, according to head coach John Ita.
"Our boys team has a lot of state experience and we have a lot of seniors who know how to score points," Ita said. "But the real nice thing is that we have a good balance of talent as well. We have a good number of seniors and juniors but we also have some very talented sophomore and freshmen so it is a real nice mix this season."
Perhaps nowhere are the Pony boys more loaded than in the sprints. Senior Steve Heberly will be running for a three-peat in three events at the state meet this season. Heberly is a two-time state champion in the 100 and 200 meters, as well as the anchor of Havre's two-time state championship 400-meter relay team. Heberly is joined by speedsters Steven Harman, Joey Howland, Eric Vosen and Anthony Bonavida.
Another area of strength for the Ponies is in distance running. Havre boasts three extremely talented runners in Jeff Sprinkle, Kasey Barsotti and Evan Olson. Ita also likes what he has in the way of jumpers. Harman placed second at state last season in the long jump, and Justin Kegel and Curt Leeds are experienced jumpers as well. The only area in which the Ponies are lacking proven talent, Ita said, is the throws.
"It is definitely a rebuilding year for our throwers," Ita said. "We have some very big freshmen but they are going to need time to gain experience. So in order for us to be successful in terms of team points, we are going to have to get those points from places like our middle distances."
On the girls' side, Ita said youth is the best way to describe his team. Despite the inexperience, he believes he has a lot of talent in several key areas.
"We have a lot of young girls out this year but they are very talented," Ita said. "The girls team doesn't really have a standout star like a Steve Heberly so I think you are going to see a lot of different girls step up each week on this team."
The strength of the Pony girls team will come from the middle- and long-distance runners. Practically the entire Havre High cross country team is out for track this season, including the likes of senior Alicia Rundquist, who has starred for the Pony cross country team for several seasons.
"We just have a whole slew of talented distance runners out this year," Ita said. "It is amazing how many really good freshman and sophomore runners we have right now. So I think that will be one of our strongest areas."
The Ponies will also be very competitive in the sprints. Kelsey Smith and Rylee O'Connell figure to anchor the Ponies in the sprints this season. Havre High also returns a couple of very strong jumpers in Brooke Schwann and Sheri Winchell. Ita said freshman Alexa Lipp has been showing a lot of promise in the triple-jump.
Like the boys team, the Pony girls are in a rebuilding process in the throwing area. Ita says his team lacks experience in the throws but not talent. Junior Kim Collins, sophomore Lacy Cody and freshman Liz Handy have been throwing extremely well in practice so far this year, according to Ita.
"I think the girls will be very competitive this season," Ita said. "But with all of the youth that is out there, we are really going to concentrate heavily on technique and form and really try to bring the girls along."
The Scottie Invitational will get under way Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Glasgow High School track. The Ponies will also be in action Tuesday in Havre at the Cal Wearley Invitational.