Just two weeks into practice and three until its first meet, the Mingus Union High School track and field team is taking things one step at a time.
Rather than looking ahead to how they want each athlete to perform, head coach Yancey DeVore is focused on consistent, day-to-day work in order to formulate a plan for them.
“A daily goal of ours is to put maximum effort into practice,” DeVore said. “Every day we want the kids to get better ... if we’re doing that, then getting better in the meets will happen on its own.”
DeVore said that they are still in the process of assessing which athletes he and his coaching staff believe can qualify for the 2017 Arizona Interscholastic Association Division III State Championships.
After graduating just two from last season, DeVore returns a core of girls, including four returning State qualifiers.
Sophomore middle distance runner Meg Babcock qualified for the 2016 State meet in the 800-meter and 1600-meter races while junior hurdler Hannah DeVore also qualified for two events last year: the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles, finishing in seventh and third, respectively.
Senior sprinter and jumper Auli Hanks adds depth to the jumps for the Marauders. Hanks went to State for the 100-meter dash, high jump and long jump. She finished in 13th in the high jump and third in the long jump.
The girls qualified two relay teams as well: 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter.
This season DeVore has high hopes for senior McKenna Jung in the 400-meter as well.
Where the girls need improvement is exactly where the boys are strong: The middle distance races.
Senior Ryan Alexander is a returning State qualifier in the 800, and also runs the 400 and 1600. Junior Jon Ulibarri is a first-year runner with a lot of upside in the middle to long distance runs, and senior Keegan Cain is being counted on as well.
Sophomore Kendrew Streck will be the team’s key thrower.
The boys lack depth in the sprint and long-distance races. They need more throwers and jumpers as well.
Neither the boys nor girls have a pole vaulter, and the girls need a thrower to come to the surface as well.
The Marauders’ first meet is the 2nd Annual Small School Invitational at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 4 at Seton High School. Their first home meet is the Mingus Invitational at 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 7.