Zionsville — No matter how good a track team can be, all it takes is one mistake or a few drops of rain for a season to go kaput.
Luckily, for the Zionsville girls track team this year has been null of both. With the abnormally warm winter, the girls have been able to get accustomed to running outside, which is something that will pay dividends in the long season.
“We have a group full of healthy girls, and going into the outdoor season that really is a lot,” coach Liz Sackers said. “Normally by this time of the year is when you have a half a dozen injured kids because you’ve been running inside all year.”
The weather is a nice change for a team who saw some tough eliminations early last year at sectionals. One, for instance, was the 4x100 meter relay team that was disqualified after dropping the baton.
“I think our four- by-one team could have very well went through,” Sackers said. “We dropped the baton at the first exchange, and that was pretty much the story right there.”
Every member of that team returns. Keila Bouwkamp, Julie Coval, Mariah Davis and Kristen Duffey are a small sample of a young Eagles group that finished fifth at sectional and ninth at regional.
“This season seems to be very promising right now as far as we have all the athletes back who can do the job,” Sackers said. “We only lost two seniors last year that were crucial point-getters.”
Daviswas the only girl in 2011 to break into the final weekend of state and did so in three different events. She finished 21st in both the long jump and 100-meter dash and placed 18th in the 200 meter.
“I had a very young team last year,” Sackers said. “My expectations actually panned out pretty well.”
“I would very much like to get a few more girls going to the state meet this year.”
The Eagles are currently wrapping up their indoor track season, and Sackers likes a lot of what she has been seeing.
“These girls have trained great,” Sackers said. “It’s been probably the best training year in my 20 years of coaching that I’ve ever had.”
She has really been impressed with her distance runners who are being coached specifically by assistant Doug Showley. The 4x800 relay team of Alison Ishmall, Marian Kastberg-Leonard, Randi Ulmer and Becca Uebele placed first at the Hoosier State Relays qualifier on March 3.
“(He) is doing an outstanding job with the distance runners this year; they are above and beyond where they were this time last year,” Sackers said. “He probably has eight girls right now that can interchange with each other at any given time.”
Aside from qualifying more at the indoor state meet they’re currently partaking in, the Eagles will be focused more on conference play than anything else.
“As always, we’re in a very tough conference,” Sackers said. “I would always like to jump up a position or two. Conference is so important to the school and the girls get real excited about it.”
The Eagles open their outdoor season Tuesday, March 20, where they match up against Lebanon and Ritter.