Track numbers are up for both the girls and boys teams at Paden City High School this Spring and it looks like the young 'Cats are primed and ready for whatever the 2014 season may bring.
The Paden City boys varsity track team will boast 18 athletes this season, 11 returning with experience and seven rookies, all working towards an appearance at the state tournament in May.
Several of the 'Cats qualified at Regionals and competed at the state meet last year, leaving the field wide open for even more of the team to qualify this season.
Wildcat head coach, Kim Huffman, is pleased with the turn out this season and is still trying to find just the right event to highlight the talents of her athletes. "We are still in the process of conditioning, and I have not yet been able to have any timed run-offs to see where some of the athletes will be placed," she said. "I do know that the 4 x 800 will be a strong point this year because I have many of my cross country athletes that I coached in the fall returning to run track."
"I am hopeful that some of the new comers might be able to field sprinting relays. Our shuttle team should be strong this year. We made it to state last year with four new hurdlers coming to the team this year, state looks promising once again."
Those donning the Green and White track uniforms this season include: returning juniors - Denton Thomas, Brandon Cross, Dean Frye, Kane Pyles and Kalob Byers; sophomores - Tyler Kiger, Travis Leonard, Dakota Gatain, Deven Price, Logan Carroll and Kris Byers. New comers on the team will be sophomore Kobe Wade and freshmen - Cade Myers, Cade Crislip, Wesley Smith, Daulton Schultheis, Jake Pierce and Cameron Cross.
With no seniors on the team fans can expect leadership on the team to be handled by returners with potential for building a good mix of athletes for each event.
Sprinting duties on the team this season will likely be handled by Pyles, Cross, Price and possibly Pierce and Leonard.
Middle distance will be led by specialist Kiger with help from Byers and possibly Wade and Smith.
Long distance athletes are at a premium for the 'Cats with the cross country program now in place. Points can be expected to be earned this season in the 1,600, 3,200 and the 4x800 relay especially from Frye, Myers and Crislip.
Still looking for consistent jumpers, speculation in the high jump and long jump are just not warranted at this time for the team.
In the throwing pits, Schultheis, Thomas, Pyles, Gatain and Cross will be expected to get the job done with the shot put and discus.
"It is difficult to predict what many of the athletes will be participating in so early in the season. I will be trying different ones out in many different events to see where we might be the strongest by the time our conferences, ovac and regionals arrive."
The Wildcats participated in their first meet of the year at Tyler Consolidated on Tuesday in the first of the Wetzel Tyler Track League meets. The team will compete at the Tyler Consolidated Invitational on Friday.
Expectations are high for the 21 young ladies participating on the Paden City High School Lady Wildcat track team this season. With a multitude of talent scattered throughout the roster, head coach Jay Salva and assistant coach Mike Pierce are looking for good things to happen this year by the time the state tournament rolls around.
"In my fourth year as coach and principal of Paden City High School, I have high expectations for the girls' track team," Salva said. "As always, we are looking to be a strong contender in the Mason-Dixon and OVAC Conferences and coach Pierce and I definitely believe several of the girls will qualify and place at the state track meet in May."
Making up the Lady Wildcat track team for 2014 will be seniors: Morgan Goddard and Beth Yaron; juniors - Kayla Hizer, Hannah Stanley, Kayla Barker, Mallory Estel, Jennifer Dahms and Nikki Little; sophomores - Erin Richmond, Simone Lerchster, Darien Ritchie, Aubrey Ritchie, Miranda Reynolds, Olivia Bolen, Lindsay Bohrer, Chelsea Dennis, Cindy Blatt, Akayla Kline, Mariah Lasure; and freshmen - Abby Still and Chelsea Baker.
Even with the loss of Lynnsie Parsons (to graduation) and Josie Fox (transfer) who both qualified for state last year, Salva has faith in the prospective hurdlers for this season.
"I have high expectations from our hurdlers Kayla Hizer, who I feel is one of the best in the state, and newcomers Hannah Stanley, Chelsea Baker and Abby Still," Salva said.
"And with the emergence of cross country at Paden City High School last year, the track team will benefit with several long distance runners in Mallory Estel, Morgan Goddard, Miranda Reynolds, Chelsea Dennis, Lindsay Bohrer and foreign exchange student Simone Lerchster."
Short distances should get some attention for the as well with a few quality sprinters taking to the track for the Lady Wildcats in Barker, Still, Dahms and Baker.
Focusing on field events this season will be Reynolds, Estel, Ritchie, Richie, Little, Richmond, Kline, Bolen, Blatt, Lasure, and Dennis, each working towards scoring points in the pit at the shot put and discus throw.
The team will also be looking for points in the high jump and long jump with candidates Still and Yaron.
With hard work, strong competitions and leaving it all on the track every single time, the Paden City Lady Wildcats can make some noise at every meet they participate this year.