Youngsters aim to help Washington

Bryan Veginski

Washington has a number of athletes to watch in girls track and field this season.

The Lady Panthers lost come valuable team members from last year’s sixth-place Mid-Illini Conference finisher, but have some prospects with bright futures.

Washington possesses sturdy numbers at the freshman and sophomore levels who could make varsity contributions in 2008.

The veterans also are capable of making an impact on the track and in the field.

“They’re a good group of girls and have a fun time at practice,” said WCHS head coach Tom Smith. “We’re looking forward to the meets.”

Freshmen Carolyn Riedel and Alison Fussner and sophomore Amy Learned are targeting school distance records.

The frosh/soph 3200 record is in the 13-minute range. The all-time 1600 (5:45 varsity and 5:50 frosh/soph) marks also could be in danger.

Assistant coach Jeff Little has taken over Vickie Aberle’s role with the distance runners, whose participants have grown this year from nine to 16.

Another girls basketball staff member, Randy Marchand, returns as an assistant.

With so many of options, the Lady Panthers have a chance to spread people out from the 400 all the way to the 3200.

Senior Tessa Barra and her sister, freshman Lexie, will look to make the high jump a Washington strength.

Tessa was a placer in the high jump and 100 high hurdles in the ’07 league meet.

Taiesha King, a junior, and the Bryans, sophomore Brooke and freshman Beth, are the projected top sprinters.

The trio will form three-quarters of the 4x100. Brooke Bryan and King both were part of the conference champion 400 relay last season. Bryan also was sixth in the 100 dash.

Valuable sprinter Ashley Cary was lost to graduation. She was on the 4x100 winner and also placed second in the 100.

Team captain Katie Petravick, a senior, will take part in the 100 and 300 hurdles. She earned fifth in the Mid-Illini in the 300 lows as a junior.

Junior Sarah McCoy is a runner the Lady Panthers are anxious to see compete in the 800 and possibly 1600 after she has improved a lot coming back from a late-season ankle injury.

Classmate Kayleigh Skaggs looks to throw the shot put and discus to compensate for the loss of Melissa McCracken.

McCracken was the conference champ in the shot in ’06 and ’07.

Skaggs was one of the frosh/soph competitors who was first an event last year and helped Washington win the league title at that level by 57 points.

With that group gaining more experience, plus this year’s class of newcomers, upcoming years carry potential.

“We have a pretty good incoming freshman class,” Smith said.

Others on the roster include: seniors — Emily Aydt, Carrie Bunting, Cori Evans, Anna Greer, Lexie Heinold, Kacy Karcher, Natalie Miller, Brandi Pudik (fifth in M-I in triple jump) and Erin Vallosio.

Juniors — Katie Bahr, Kelsey Buchanan, Heather Cotner, Sarah Mack, Sara Ohlman and Ellen Riedel.

Sophomores — Brandyce Gordon, Lexie Grayer, KC Gresham, Caryn Guth, Megan Harper, Alyssa Koerner, Kelsey McGinnes, Cari Musselman, Lindsay Owsly and Sara Waldon.

Freshmen — Marissa Brown, Brandi Claudin, Kelli Deatherage, Mary Gabbart, Miriah Garcia, Jill Karcher, Valencia King, Breanna Overly, Erin Thurston and

Rachael Urban.

With few chances to get outdoors for most of March, it is unclear exactly what the Lady Panthers have this season.

The two scheduled home meets this week (Streator yesterday, Eureka tomorrow), despite occurring during spring break, will give Washington a better idea of where to best place the athletes.

Smith said perennial conference champion Metamora is the favorite again, looking for its ninth straight title, adding everyone else likely is going for second place.

The Lady Panthers will greet the same schedule they faced in ’07.

The first league action is a Tuesday road meet at Metamora.