Twelve returning letterwinners bolster Columbia High's 2007 track and field teams that figure to be competitive in the relays and sundry individual events.
This year's turnout, moreover, got a bump up in numbers with the enrollment of 11 freshmen.
Longtime Bruins Coach Doug Miller said he expects strong seasons from the boys and girls relay teams, junior high jumper Calvin Garrett, junior sprinter Kyle Earls (200, 400, relays) and sophomore runner Luis Roque (1600, 400, relays).
Others to watch for are seniors Eloise Zimbelman (1600, 3200) and Brett Rawding (throws); junior Naomi Halpern (sprints, relays); sophomores Whitney Reynier (relays), Michelle McMillen (sprints), Anna Anderson (800), Enrique Granados (sprints, relays), Casey Hurn (hurdles), Bo Ward (jumps), Tate Petersen (jumps) and Ryan Nystrom (throws); and freshmen Joanna Villa (1600, 800), Laura Shrum (400) and Zach Mart (400).
Miller said the Bruins' nine-meet schedule will provide Columbia's 30 athletes with plenty of opportunity to refine their techniques and build toward the district qualifying meet on May 9 and 11 in Stevenson.
"I like the balance of dual meets and invitationals this year," Miller said. "It should let more people compete."
One of this year's points of emphasis, CHS's coach noted, will be on "teaching kids to stay healthier and away from injuries, which will involve making wiser decisions with workouts, competitions, diet and wellness."
The effort, said Miller, is being aided greatly by the "Bigger, Faster, Stronger training" CHS athletes receive in the high school's Health and Fitness classes, and from the "wonderful attention" they get from Skyline Hospital's Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine staff.
As for the season, Miller said he is hoping to take several relay teams and individual athletes to the state Class 1A championships, which will be held May 24-26 at Maple Valley.
"We should have at least a dozen advancing to that level," Miller predicted.
Columbia High's assistant coaches this year are former CHS and Washington State University standout Heidi Shultz-Polkinghorn (jumps, hurdles), Scott Kasenga (throws) and veteran Hood River coach Rich Hedges.