Havre Daily News
It's time to kick off a brand new season for the Havre High track team. And while the Ponies may not be the most experienced group head coach Mark West has ever had, they are chomping at the bit to get the 2006 track season under way.
Both teams are coming off disappointing 2005 seasons, with neither team earning a trophy at the Central A divisional or Class A state meet. But with a good mixture of talent and experience the Ponies have high hopes for 2006.
“The kids are really excited about track this season,” HHS head coach Mark West said. “We have a lot of kids and they are really enthusiastic about it. They are working very hard in practice and they can't wait to get out there and compete. It's been really exciting so far.”
The boys return just seven seniors from a year ago and they will have to rely a lot on their talented youngsters. Among those who will be leading the way for the Ponies this year will be Kyle Finneman, who earned all-conference honors last year. The multi-talented Finneman competes in the 100, 200 and 400-meter races. Cody McLean is an all-state performer in the pole vault, Ryan Horn will lead the way for the jumpers and Robert Brooks and Marcus Campbell will lead the Ponies in the distance races.
“The boys are going to be very young this year, but I think that they could surprise some people this season,” West said. “Cody McLean was all-state last year and we expect him to have another really good year this season. Kyle Finneman should lead the way for our sprinters, and we also have some good young throwers and we are real strong in the long distances with Marcus and Robert.”
The Ponies should also be fairly strong in the 400-meter relay and the 1600-meter relay with Finneman, Horn, Derrick Verploegen, Josh Morse and Mike Hickman all in contention for spots on the relay teams.
Others who should contribute to the team will be Kyle Rommel, Matt Schnittgen, Robert The Boy, Evan Hinebauch, Ethan Hinebauch and Andy Keim.
“I am excited about this season because we have some good kids who are ready to compete,” West said. “We have some young kids that we need to step up, but there are some kids that are ready to have big years. Our conference is wide open this year so we feel we have a good chance to improve upon our place at divisionals last year.” The HHS girls are also fairly young, but they have some solid upperclassmen to give them a very good mixture of youth and experience. Leading the way for the Ponies this year will be all-state performers Lena Suek and Carmen Neuens.
Suek competes in the shot put, discus and javelin and she should be one of the Ponies' top point collectors this season. Neuens competes in the high jump, long jump and the triple jump, and should also bring in plenty of points for HHS.
Another positive for the Ponies this year is that they will be getting Mandy Nystrom back after she missed most of last season with an injury. Nystrom is a very versatile athlete that will compete in the 200 and 400 meters, both hurdle events and both relays for the Ponies.
“I think our girls are going to be very interesting this year,” West said. “We have some talented girls coming back with Lena and Carmen and getting Mandy back is going to help us out a lot because we kind of struggled last year without her.”
The Ponies should get big contributions from Casea Pollington in the high jump, Darcie Briere in both distance races, and Kelsey and Cammie West sin the sprints.
West also expects to get contributions from youngsters such as Tricia Samson, Hannah Wells, Rosa Horn, Meredith Hanson and Tanya Westbrook.
“You know I am pretty excited about our girls this year because for the first time in a long time we have good kids in pretty much every event,” West said. “It will be tough for us in our conference because Belgrade and Livingston are loaded this year. But I think that we will be very competitive this year and I feel that we have a good shot and bringing back a trophy.”
Last season neither team was able to place at the divisional track meet, but hopefully they can improve upon that and find a way to finish in the top three this season. On the boys side things are pretty wide open and at this point there is no real favorite.
“It's hard to know where we are at right now because we just don't really know what the other teams have and what we have at this point,” West said. “We are also kind of at a disadvantage because we will not really see the southern teams in our conference such as Belgrade or Livingston until late in the season. So it definitely makes it hard for us to prepare for them.”
The Ponies will open up the 2006 season this weekend at the Cal Wearley track meet this Saturday in Havre. North Star high school is the host of the track meet and so the Ponies will be competing against mostly Class C and Class B schools from along the Hi-line. The Ponies will be bringing their varsity and junior varsity kids to the meet and they will be splitting both their boys and girls team into two different squads for the meet.
“We are going to be brining a lot of our kids to the meet this weekend and we will split the boys and girls team into team one and team two for the meet,” He said. “We are basically just seeing where we are at and what are times are going to be because at this point in the year we don't really know, so it will be nice to see the kids go out and compete.”