Whitefish Pilot - Tracksters gearing up for another good year

Tracksters gearing up for another good year

Posted: Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 - 10:18:27 am PDT

By DAVID ERICKSON / Whitefish Pilot
The 2008 Whitefish High School track and field team is slowly shifting into high-gear, despite distractions such as spring break, the prom and fickle weather.

Rest assured however, that coach Derek Schulz and the rest of the Bulldog staff will have the kids in fine form come performance time.

"That's the nature of Montana track. You have to be flexible because of the weather and other things," Schulz said. "Our focus is to really think about staying healthy and getting kids in condition slowly. You don't win much that's important in March or April. All the big stuff happens in May."

Schulz said his team will have from 90-100 kids this year, with 10 senior boys and seven senior girls.

The Whitefish girls finished second at state last year, while the boys finished sixth. The Bulldogs were especially competitive in conference, as the girls were divisional champions and the boys finished a close second to Polson.

Schulz said he is optimistic he can repeat that success this season, due to the success of the cross-country team this year. The Lady Bulldogs were state champions, while the boys placed third.

"We are hoping to carry some momentum from the cross-country season," Schulz said. "All the kids were so competitive."

The Lady Bulldogs track squad this year will feature state cross-country champion Loni Hanson, a sophomore, as well as two-time defending 100-meter-hurdle state champion Ashley Ferda, a senior.

Hanson will compete in the 1,600 meter and 3,200 meter races. All-State junior Drew Coco showed he is one of the fastest young men in the state with his fifth-place finish at the state meet.

"Particularly on the girls side, there's a lot of young talent," Schulz explained. "We had a lot of freshman and younger kids contribute in cross country."

Schulz said his kids are coming in this season with a variety of different conditioning levels.

"Some kids ran all winter, and some were in winter sports, but then some kids weren't as active," he said. "We've had our distance runners out on the track and on the roads, but our throwers and jumpers have just been in the gym working on stretching and conditioning, due to the weather."

The Bulldogs lost a couple of their big guns last year in state high-jump champion Cort Rogers and state-champion sprinter Courtney Ferda, who now runs for the University of Montana track and field team.

"Anytime you lose a state-record holder (Rogers), it's hard to replace that," Schulz said. "But we're just going to reload and go with what we've got."

The Bulldogs have their first meet of the season this Saturday at the Columbia Falls Invite.

"It's actually a fairly large meet, with 10-12 teams coming," Schulz said. "However, there's a rule that says kids have to have 10 practices in before they can compete, so that might hurt us."

Schulz said everyone on the team is excited and can't wait for the season to start.

"We have a really nice core of coaches that are really committed, so it's going to be great," he said.