Wildcat track team looking to improve

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SNOQUALMIE - Mount Si's track and field teams look to be very strong this season.

The boys look to be a top team in Kingco this spring. Veteran coach Chris Jackson has taken over the head coaching role for boys track and field this season on an interim basis, substituting for head coach Christine Kjenner. Jackson boasts a strong team this season and leading that cast of more than 40 are returning state qualifiers Adam Rothgeb (hurdles) and Alex Grazda (high jump and javelin). Some other athletes to watch include 400 meter sprinters Brady Barry, Joe Taklo and Stefan Marth. Taklo will compete in the 800-meter competition this spring, as well. Distance runners to watch include athletes Brad Allen, Thomas Goble and Kyle Stanton-Wyman, along with newcomer Drake Da Ponte. In field events, pole vault appears to be a deep event this season with returning athletes Mike Montgomery and Zack Sumner, and newcomer Sean Bothell looking to step up in that event.

In addition, the throwing events are loaded with newcomers for Mount Si's boys. Leading that group is Jake Tweten, Carter Howell and Kirk Strandjord. Grazda is excited.

"I think this year is going to be really good. We have a lot more throwers than we've had since I've been here," Grazda said.

Jackson's philosophy this season is competing to win, combined with constant improvement, teamwork, camaraderie and physical and mental development of the athletes.

For the girls, the team is young, with only three seniors: Shannon Posey, Meaghan Dunklee and Barb Holm. Also returning is junior Nicole Remish in sprinting competition and fellow junior Devan Paulus in the pole vault. Making her return to the girls track program after missing 2004 due to injury is junior Kali Roestel. Nine freshman girls turned out among a total of 28 athletes. There is also an international flavor on the girls squad, as well, as student-athletes from Germany and Denmark who are here at Mount Si as exchange students also are competing this spring.

Coach Dave Clifford, back for his 30th campaign as Mount Si girls track and field coach, is looking to go one step at a time.

"It's just like every year. We try to train our kids to go as far as they can so. Our initial goal is to qualify everybody for the league meet, and then get them from league to district, get them from district to state. We're not so much concerned with dual meet wins and things like that, although we like to be competitive, but our main goal is individuals maximizing their personal bests," Clifford said.

Clifford added that he's looking for a middle of the pack finish, and that Issaquah and the Bellevue schools all look tough this season.

Their energy is quite high.

"Yeah, we're a pretty energetic group," said Remish, competing in four separate sprint events this season.

Both the boys and girls teams, due to the continuing construction of the new stadium facilities at Mount Si, will be practicing and competing away from the school this spring. Some practices are being held at Issaquah High School, others at various makeshift locations around the Mount Si campus. All meets will be on the road. Both coaches can't wait for the new facilities to be open.

"We're really excited about it, obviously. We've had a whole year now of kind of being bussed all over the place and not having our own home-field and that's getting a little bit trying at times so [I'm] really excited about it. I think it will really help our turnout, said Jackson.

Clifford added that he had some sympathy for the seniors.

"I feel sorry for our seniors because they're not going to be able to use that great facility, but it will be one of the outstanding facilities in the state when it's completed," he said.

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