WEBSTER CITY - The youngsters have taken over the asylum.
With nearly half of its roster filled by freshmen, the Webster City girls' track team has a decidedly youthful appearance as it gets set to open the 2013 season next Tuesday at the Richard Ryan Relays in Gowrie.
"The attitudes that those freshmen are bringing are remarkable and their mental focus is there also," WCHS co-head coach Theo Clark, who shares his duties with Kristy Manson, said. "These kids are just competitors. Coaching them is so easy and it's really starting to get contagious with some of the veterans."
DFJ file photo by Troy Banning
Carrie Gerdes soars towards the long jump pit during the Class 3A state competition in Des Moines last May. Now a sophomore, Gerdes is coming off hip surgery.
Rookie Allie Flaws showcased her speed and won the 55-meter dash at the BVU Indoor earlier this month, and she's expected to be a stalwart in the sprints for the Lynx.
"We wondered how fast Allie was and we found out," Clark said. "The talent is there and we know it and now she just has to get used to the idea of high school track and competing against kids that are state qualifiers."
Other freshmen that could make a lasting impression include fellow sprinter Kisston Thomas, hurdler and long jumper Chelsey Wagoner, and distance specialists Cassidy Bultena and Courtney Biere.
"Kisston just has raw speed, and (Bultena and Biere) have the ability to score in the (North Central Conference) meet this year," Clark said. "They're all very goal-oriented kids."
Still, WCHS has plenty of experienced athletes to help bridge the gap.
Junior Kaylee Schnathorst was a state qualifier in the shot put a season ago, placing 21st in Class 3A, and she'll continue as a hurdler as well.
"We know Kaylee is going to bring to the table what she brought the last two years and we're going to lean on her," Clark said. "She's one of our main pillars."
Sophomore Carrie Gerdes was a breakout star a season ago, vaulting to the 3A silver medal in the long jump. But an offseason hip surgery will keep her on the sidelines, at least early in the season.
"We're being really cautious with Carrie and we're trying to bring her back slowly," Clark said. "She might not have a full season, but it's like we told her, what are the meets that we care most about? It's conference, (the state qualifying meet) and state, that's what we're priming her for."
Junior Morgan Gourley and sophomore Hannah Myers give the Lynx a quality one-two punch in the high jump, and Myers' development over the past year has put her in position to be a dangerous hurdler.
"Hannah just blew us away in that first (indoor) meet," Clark said. "Because of her growth, her offseason training and her commitment, she's going to be a big contributor for us."
Fellow veterans Kaitlyn Kehoe and Morgan Shannon - both middle distance runners - as well as distance ace Morgan Moline will be leaned on as well.