On their marks.
The Campbell County High School indoor track and field team is toeing the line for its first meet of the season Saturday at the Natrona Indoor Invite.
For Camels coach Micah Christensen, the first meet is a chance for athletes to set a foundation to build toward a peak at the state meet.
“This first meet, we just really like to get our bearings and see how kids are going to fit into the whole team part of it and see where our strengths are and work from there and where we can put kids to give us the most complete team to compete,” Christensen said.
The Campbell County girls placed 13th of 16 teams at the 2019 state indoor meet, and the boys were 16th of 17.
The Camels return many upperclassmen who contributed to last season’s team, and they will have some newcomers with ability to place come early March. There are just under 60 athletes on the CCHS indoor team, Christensen said, and they so far have had two weeks of practice.
The list of top returning Camels to watch includes junior Lauryn Love, sophomore Nyomi Moore for the girls, and Vijay Pitter, who has the top finish in his event of any boy’s team returner.
Love took third last season in the shot put, the only indoor throwing event in Wyoming, with a mark of 37-feet, 7.25-inches. It was her only event.
Moore was a sprinter/jumper last year, and in her first year with the team she was fourth in the long jump at 16 feet, 9 inches. She also nearly placed in the 55-meter dash and was on the ninth-place 800-meter relay team.
Moore and Love were the only two Camel girls to score points at the state meet last season.
Pitter, who throws and runs sprints, was 11th last season in shot put with a heave of 45-feet, 1.50-inches.
Pole vaulter Davis Cathey, who scored all of the boy’s points last season (5) when he placed fourth with a vault of 13 feet, graduated last year. To make up for the loss, the Camels have senior Eli Jones of Upton, who marked 11 feet, 6 inches at the outdoor Class 2A state meet last season.
Many other athletes such as junior sprinter/jumpers Kaden Race and Angel Nava were on the bubble of placing at state last season.
“Those guys were all on the verge of breaking into that upper echelon last year, being sophomores,” Christensen said.
Nava suffered a slight meniscus tear during the football season, but he isn’t going to get surgery until after the track season, Christensen said.
Will Miller, a sophomore who was a starting running back for the Camels in the fall, will compete this season for the first time, Christensen said.
“We’re hoping that they step up to the plate and help us out,” Christensen said about the first-year track athletes.
Indoor track and field is a sport that many CCHS multi-sport athletes use to work on individual aspects of their athleticism — strength, speed, explosiveness — to improve themselves for other sports.
“They just want to make themselves better and compete,” Christensen said about the multi-sport athletes. “As long as kids are out competing, whether it’s wrestling or whatever the sport may be, I think it’s of huge importance that kids get out there and do things year-round and not specialize.”
The Natrona Indoor Invite starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Mustang Athletic Complex in Casper.
The Bolts enter the season with about 105 athletes, which is comparable to the last two years. They will bring 47 girls and 39 boys to the first meet at Natrona.
The girls team, which placed fifth at state last season, returns a handful of state placers and a solid senior core.
Senior Kezley Yeager is the top state placer returning. She placed second in the 400-meter dash last season and sixth in the 200.
Yeager will have quite a bit of help in the sprints this season, coach Tanner Kelting said.
Junior Annakaye Pitter will be one of the main contributors following a fifth-place finish in the 200 last year, while senior Delaney Knottnerus placed 11th. Kelting said he also has some sophomores who also could make a difference in the sprints.
In the distance events, the Bolts will look to senior Meghan Hanson to be a leader for the team. She was a top-eight finisher in the 2-mile at state in 2019.
A couple of her training partners will be senior Hailey Jones, who joins the team from Moorcroft, and sophomore Rylee Brandon, who was eighth in the mile last season.
The boys team has to deal with more missing pieces than the girls, including graduated seniors, athletes moving away and multiple injuries.
Ryan Kienzle, who won Thunder Basin’s lone state title last year in the shot put, graduated.
Another key athlete missing is senior Tyson Edwards, who injured his knee during the football season. He was the state runner-up in the 55-meter hurdles last season. Hayden Minchow, who Kelting expected to be a senior leader before the season, also is out with a shoulder injury.
“We have a bunch of senior boys that are hurt,” Kelting said. “Losing those guys hurt.”
The two boys in particular Kelting will be relying on this season are senior Donovan Hoffman and junior Oscar Martinez, who are both sprinters.
Hoffman placed seventh in the 55-meter dash last season and was fourth in the prelims for the 200, but a pulled muscle kept him out of the finals. Martinez took fifth in the 400.
Morgan Doherty, who was a top-25 placer in the 800 last year, is somebody Kelting expects to step into a leadership role at the start of the season, while junior Jaxon Pikula was an athlete who filled a lot of relay spots for the Bolts last year.
“We’re really young after that, Kelting said.
Thunder Basin is two weeks into practice. Kelting has no complaints about the effort he’s seen so far.
“The kids have been working really hard. We work them out pretty hard since Day One,” he said. “We’re looking for good things this year (and) just hope that some of these younger kids step up.”
The meet at Natrona will be a great gauge for Thunder Basin because almost every team in the state will be there, Kelting said.