Northeast Nodaway was led last year by the individual brilliance of Dylan Mildfeldt who finished third at the state championships last season.
With the graduation of Mildfeldt, Bluejays’ coach Jared Freemyer hopes that the overall depth of this season’s team will overcome the loss of the star power they had last year and lead to a better team season.
“We got so close so many times last year in districts,” Freemyer said. “Most of those kids are back so I’m looking forward to doing better in every track meet.”
The girls team is where Freemyer is hoping to see the most growth with a pair of freshmen who just missed out on advancing through districts, now becoming sophomores.
“They are very tight knit and they a figuring out their spots,” Freemyer said.
Paige West came the closest with a long jump of 15-feet-6.75 for fifth-place in the district and one spot from sectionals. She also came close in the 100-meter hurdles where she was seventh and the 300-meter hurdles where she was eighth.
West says she is excited to begin her sophomore season and put the experience she got during her freshman year to use.
“I’m just really trying to get that top-four place this year,” West said. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better at getting up to my sprint speed faster.”
Madelynn Mattson came in sixth in the shot put last season and Blair Stoll was seventh in the discus. Anne Schieber was eighth in the 800-meter run.
On the boys side of things, senior Colton Wilmes should lead the way after winning a conference championship in the shot put last season with a throw over 42 feet.
Wilmes enters this season with plenty of motivation after he scratched out at the the event in districts when 42 feet would have easily been enough to advance him into sectionals.
“The last one last year didn’t go very well for me and my form went bad,” Wilmes said. “I’m looking forward to his year to try and bounce back and get my form back. … I know I can do it.”
Wilmes is also taking an active leadership role on the Bluejays this year, helping the throwers on both the boys and girls teams.
“Our seniors last year helped push us so that is another thing for me to focus on,” Wilmes said. “Right now, I’m helping push (our throwers) and that gives me quite a bit of pride.”
The strength of the Northeast Nodaway program on the track comes from its younger athletes where the Jays has several people just miss out on moving on into sectionals.
Nathan Schieber took sixth in the 800-meter run, Mitchell Sherry was seventh in the triple jump and Ethan Adwell were eighth in the high jump.
“Nathan is a really good middle-distance guy and I really expect him to get out of districts if not make state,” Freemyer said. “Ethan Adwell, I’ve said lots of times that I wish we had decathlon because he could probably do that. He is strong. He is fast. He jumps. He can do anything and can fill in anywhere.”
Freemyer is also excited about the freshman class that the Bluejays are adding to the program.
“We have a lot of young kids, especially on the boys side, who show a lot of potential and promise,” Freemyer said. “If we don’t see a lot of points scored by these freshmen, they are definitely going to get that taste of success. … When they are juniors and seniors, we should have a pretty dominant team.”
The Jays open the season on Thursday, March 21, at Worth County.