UTICA – The Centennial Broncos girls’ track team will be solid in some events, and in others it will need underclassmen to step up and replace athletes who have graduated.
Centennial will look to a pair of returning state qualifiers in juniors Kate Hirschfeld and Daylee Dey, and another junior, a transfer from Kentucky, Jillian Bailey, who competed in three events at Kentucky’s state meet in 2019.
Broncos’ head coach Rob Johansen said it will take a combination of old and new to make up for the graduation losses.
“We have a good core of returning letterwinners from last season combined with some newcomers. We lost some big point scorers to graduation, but hope to fill those gaps,” Johansen said. “Kate Hirschfeld returns from medaling in both triple jump and the 400-meter dash. Daylee Dey in the 800 and Jillian Bailey transfers in from Kentucky, where she qualified in their state meet in long jump, triple jump and 400 relay.”
Hirschfeld was the top runner in the 400 last year among York News-Times’ area competitors, posting a season-best of 1 minute, 0.4 seconds. She was sixth at state in the event with a clocking of 1:00.88. She tied with her now-graduated teammate, Lilly Cast, in the triple jump, with both setting a mark of 35 feet, 4 inches.
Dey had the third-best time in the 800 with 2:29.48. She ran that at state where she finished in 15th.
The team has five seniors and a total of 14 girls on the roster.
The seniors and their projected events include; Erika Cast (pole vault/sprints), Ascha Utter (throws), Aurora Junge (throws), Sydney Kinnett (distance) and Hunter Hartshorn (throws).
Along with Hirschfeld, Dey and Bailey, juniors include; Asia Nisly (sprints); Kiley Rathjen (400, 800) and Jaycee Stuhr (high jumps, hurdles.)
Sophomore Gracen Fehlhafer will compete in the pole vault.
“Our middle-distances are thin and it will be tough to assemble a 3200 relay. Low numbers in high jump and hurdles,” Johansen said. “Our conference meet is usually the hardest meet of the season. It will be tough to repeat as champions. Districts will be competitive to get girls to state. We’re going to face some very good track schools.”
Johansen’s coaching staff also includes Cason Farr, Jake Polk, Leah Pancoke and Curtis Saunders.
The current season remains on hold due to COVID-19.