Columbia High's 2006 track and field team will feature six athletes with state 2A meet experience.
The athletes on the boys side are senior Andrew Culp, the 2004 District IV 100-meter champion who sat out last year; senior Nolan Kenoyer, who placed seventh at state in the 110-meter hurdles, and sophomores Calvin Garrett, the 2005 District IV high jump champion and Kyle Earls, an up-and-coming sprinter.
Girls with state experience are seniors Alycia Rohwer (400, 1600, 4x400 relay) and Ashley Neff (800, 4x400), and sophomore Nikki Plante, a transfer from Stevenson who made it to state last year in the hurdles.
Also returning are juniors David White (100, 200, relays) and Eloise Zimbelman (1600, 3200).
All told, Bruins Coach Doug Miller welcomed a turnout of 30 athletes (19 boys, 11 girls) for the start of the new season, which begins today at 3:30 p.m. with the first of three home meets.
During the season, the Bruins' ability to score points will depend heavily on their team speed to offset their inexperience in the throws and lack of depth in the jumps.
"We have a modicum of speed and should be able to build four fast relays, boys and girls 4x100 and boys and girls 4x400," Miller said.
In the throwing events, Columbia is starting over. Last year's top three scorers in the discus, shot put and javelin graduated.
"Throws are going to be a struggle--we lost everyone," Miller said.
Still, he noted, a number of CHS's proven athletes "have high expectations" coming into the season and "a few freshman bear watching."
Columbia High's boys team should be strong in the sprints, relays, hurdles and high jump.
The sprints (100, 200, 400) and 4x100 and 4x400 relays will feature Culp, Earls, White and freshmen Enrique Granados and Luis Roque.
The return of Culp "should help the boys 4x100 be very competitive," Miller said.
Also hoping to make their marks in the sprints are senior Matt Cooley and sophomore Robert Plante.
Kenoyer, for his part, will double in the 110 and 300 hurdles. He'll also compete in the long and triple jumps.
Garrett, who cleared a career-high 6 feet, 4 inches to win the district high jump, also will give it a go in the long jump.
Adding depth in the jumps will be Cooley, sophomore Bo Ward and freshman James Tate.
Roque, sophomore William Hardisty and junior Joey Lewis will make up CHS's long-distance team.
Miller said Roque "could be a tough freshman miler," while Lewis "could be the one to watch."
In the throws, the Bruins will go with a lineup of senior Josh Burrell, juniors Brett Rawding, Samuel Marts and Doug Teel, and freshman Ryan Nystrom.
With eight first-year competitors, the Bruins are as young experience-wise as they've ever been in Miller's tenure as head coach.
New to the team are seniors Rene‚ England (distances) and Haley Hunsaker (throws), juniors Helen Soerby (distances) and Laura Gruszecki (distances), sophomores Naomi Halpern (sprints), Shannon McNallan (sprints) and Donna Suarez (throws) and freshman Whitney Reynier (sprints).
Two of those girls will team with Neff and Rowher to compose CHS's 4x400 relay.
The 4x100 relay will feature Halpern, McNallan, Reynier and Plante, an athlete "who should add considerable depth to the girls team."