Track and field season had a nonconventional start at Roseburg High School this season.
With close to 160 athletes signed up to compete and a snow delay, the first week of practice included warm-ups in the quad, working out in the weight room, fitness room and on the track.
“It was an odd way to start, but we ran with it, so to speak,” RHS head coach Gwen Bartlett said. “Being able to adapt and be flexible with the weather conditions and the large numbers has been the challenge, but I am impressed with the team camaraderie that is being established, the positivity the athletes and coaches are demonstrating, and the risk-taking that is occurring.”
Gwen Bartlett returns as the head coach for her second season and will have the help of seven assistant coaches and five volunteer coaches.
Bill Bartlett takes over as the pole vault coach this season. Mike Bober coaches the high jump, Brian Groshong hurdles, Tonia Brewer and Stephanie Hutchins the throws, Jim Early the long and triple jump, and Nathan Eckman the long distance runners.
There are 12 team captains on the team, each with their own role in their own events.
“Each of the team leaders were nominated and chosen by the coaching staff for their leadership qualities and their ability to mentor younger athletes and role-model our core values and beliefs of the program,” Gwen Bartlett said. “I have been impressed with this group of leaders so far and have the utmost trust in their capabilities.”
“We have an army of distance kids,” senior Elijah Hansen said.
Hansen, Hunter Agsten and Zachary Traul are the top returning distance runners.
Hansen, Agsten and Nina Wilhoft are the team captains for the long distance runners.
“It’s hard to know what to expect, the conditions have been less than ideal,” Hansen said. “The expectations are humongous.”
Hansen himself is hoping to continue improving her personal records and improve.
Roseburg seniors Isabell Webber and Bethany Kalebaugh also came to join the distance runners. Both competed for RHS cross country in the fall, and Kalebaugh competed for South Umpqua last season.
Freshman Eliza Eckman had a stellar cross country season, earning a state berth, and coach Bartlett said the expectations of her in the 3,000 meters are high.
Ninth-graders Preston Smith and Nicholas Looper also made a lot of improvement during cross country and are back to build on that during track season.
Nic Bolin and Hannah Bartlett were just shy of making the state meet last year, but the seniors are determined to change that this season.
Hannah Bartlett did not play basketball this season and she said, “It feels good to come out and start fresh.”
Bolin has been working on the high jump and long jump throughout the winter and hopes to jump 6-2 in the high jump and 19-feet in the long jump and improve upon his split time in the 4x400 relay team.
“My goal for the team is to see as much improvement as possible,” Bolin said.
Coach Bartlett also expects Mayah Pappas to do well in the girls’ long jump.
Bolin, Hannah Bartlett, Grace Backen and Pappas are the team captains for the jumps.
Carson Ellis is the only state placer to return in the shot put.
Juan Macias and Hunter Hillard will also bring experience with them.
“Normally I have a number, or a record, that I want to beat, but this year I want to focus on each meet and see what happens,” Macias said. “I want to be better for myself and for the team.”
Gretchen Lucido is the top returning javelin thrower for the girls. “She has been working hard in the offseason to prepare, so expect great achievements from her,” coach Bartlett said.
“I hope to make it to district in all my throwing events,” Lucido said, who competes in the javelin, discus and shot put. “I’d like to accomplish camaraderie and make people feel good about the sport see they continue it next year.”
Lucido, Hillard and Macias are the throws’ team captains to help newcomers such as Jaden Warmouth, Hunter Blix and Colton Jordan.
In the sprints, the trouble will be staying healthy.
Both Gracious Lusby and D’Angelo Adams have struggled with injuries in the past. Lusby struggled with leg injuries the past two years and Adams sustained a knee injury during basketball season.
“The hope is that he will heal and his legs will rest a bit in order to utilize his speed in the 100 meters and as a leg on the 4x100 relay,” coach Bartlett said.
Jonathan Colunga is shifting from the 800 to the 400 this year, and Eddie Herskovitz and Chahaya Hill will be important members of the relay teams and role models for the incoming freshmen.
“My personal goal is to keep improving,” Herskovitz said. “As a team I like where we’re at. A third of our team is freshmen and it’s exciting.”
German foreign exchange student Finn Fluegel joins the team to compete in the 200, 400 and middle distance runs.
Herskovitz and JT Dauterman are the team captains for the sprinters.
Erin Mendelson is the only returning girl vaulter, but she’ll be joined by quite a few returners on the boys’ side.
She is also the team captain for the vaulters and hoping to break her personal best by two feet.
“I’d also like to be more well-rounded,” Mendelson said.
Collin Ellis and Blake Johnson are both returning for the boys.
“They have a healthy competing relationship and the expectation is that Ellis and Johnson will push each other this season for continued improvements and PRs,” Gwen Bartlett said.