LUSK – Niobrara County High School has four seniors on the track and field team and all of them have seen their ups and downs during the spring season.
Anna Richardson just missed qualifying for state in the shot put and discuss her first two years, and will put aside the sprints to focus on the ring this year.
Courtney Rowley had a pair of fourth place pole vault finishes her first two seasons, but injuries will keep her out of the pit and hurdles this spring. At a recent practice she was throwing the shot put with classmate Jasper Caldera.
Renae Marker qualified for state as a sophomore in the high jump and after a strong volleyball season is excited to finish near the top. She will possibly do some running events and jumping into sand as well.
Riley Shaw has also battled injuries over her career but a strong showing two years ago show the potential in the sprint events. Basketball season took a toll on her hips and back so will be healing up during the first few weeks.
Deanna West is the team manager this spring and has the task of keeping the coaches and athletes getting to their events properly.
Sandra Johnson enters her 11th season in charge of the Lady Tigers and after the coronavirus shut down last spring’s sports, anticipates a full season. She has 13 girls out this year, with a balanced mix of veterans and rookies.
“We just need the weather to cooperate so we can get outside,” she said. “We’ll be strong in the field events, but can’t simulate that in the gym.”
Jaden Stauffer is the lone junior on the squad and looks to contribute in the sprints and relay events. After that is a mix of underclassmen full of enthusiasm and talent- yet short on experience.
“I’m excited to see what sophomore Jazmin Ladwig can do,” added Johnson. “She’s a track athlete and we’ll get her in the hurdles and sprints.”
Mother Nature and a lost season last year has Johnson holding the pieces to a puzzle that may not be fully together until May. As most coaches will attest to, it’s better to be peaking later than early and this certainly matters for the Lady Tigers this season.
In addition to Johnson (high jump/hurdles), Ron Nelson (throws), Chris Skeen (jumpers/running events) and Jim Lyons (pole vault/sprints) will be leading the thinclads this spring.
The Lady Tigers are scheduled to open the season at Newcastle on Friday but won’t go to Morrill, Neb. on Saturday. After that, it may not be until the Wheatland Invitational on April 10 before their next meet. The Zowada Invitational is scheduled for May 1 at Fullmer Stadium.