Both of Fort Scott High School's track and field teams will start with small varsity numbers and look to be at their best in May, when the league and Regional track meets will be held.
Girls' coach Tracey Bogina has 30 out for her team, which she says is a good number, but will only have nine on varsity at the first meet of the season this afternoon at Labette County.
Boys' head coach B.J. Pruitt, who moves into the position after coaching Tiger baseball the last four seasons, has 31 out but plans to use 11 on varsity at LCHS today.
"I ran track in high school," Pruitt said. "It's been 13 years since I was involved in track. I'm really enjoying it. It's great being with the kids and trying to make them better each day."
The first junior varsity meet of the season will be held simultaneously at Labette County before going to their own meets the rest of the season.
Because of the low varsity number, Bogina says her approach will focus on making each athlete better.
"It's been typical for us," Bogina said. "We'll bring some up at the end of the year. We have depth in the events we can put out there. Every event we go into, we should be OK.
"We're focusing on each girl to bring their best to every meet."
For now, the girls won't have any sprinters, unless you consider the 400 meters a sprint. Mallory Shelton, a senior, will run the 400 while Sierra Willard, a junior who is out for track for the first time, will begin the season on JV and is expected to move up as the season goes on. There will also not be any hurdlers or any relay teams.
Juniors Paige Denton and Rikki Butler and sophomore Katren Rienbolt will be the distance runners. Denton was a State qualifier last year in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. All three will run the 800 meters with Denton and Rienbolt also running the 16 and 32. These will be new events for Rienbolt, who was one of Class 4A's top cross-country runners in the fall in her first year in that sport. She was a State qualifier in hurdles last year but will not compete there this season.
"They should be very competitive in most races," Bogina says of her distance runners. "I'm excited about having those two running. They're not just great teammates but great friends and they work well together."
Shelton will also continue to high jump, where she qualified for last year's State meet. This year, the event will be a specialty and she will not long jump or triple jump.
The throws are where the Tiger girls have depth. Jessica Cox and Ashley Allen will compete in discus. Brianne Lawrence will be in discus and shot put. Jillian Lattimer will be in shot and javelin. Ashlyn Baugher will be in the shot put.
Pruitt has five athletes in mind for the sprints and could put together a 4x100-meter relay with them. Dezmund Willard and Brady Fink will both State qualifiers in the 400 last year -- Fink finished seventh to earn a State medal -- and will run that again this year. Willard will also run the 100 meters with Micah Eisenbrandt and the 200 with Nick Nuzum and Cody McGehee.
Pruitt plans to use Nuzum, Fink, Eisenbrandt and Willard on a 4x400 relay team. David Goff will run the 300-meter hurdles. Race Kastl is slated to compete in the 110 hurdles when he returns from an injury suffered during wrestling season.
Robert Sellers is the only distance runner on the varsity for now. He'll run the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
Fink will high jump -- he tied for seventh at State last year -- along with McGehee. Fink, Nuzum and Eisenbrandt are slated to triple jump while Fink and Nuzum will long jump.
Goff, McGehee and Daniel Durbin will compete in shot put. Durbin, Frank Scott and Brendan Blackburn will throw the discus. McGehee, Goff and Cody Davis will throw the javelin.
"The main strength of the (boys) team is that there's a lot of seniors (12)," Pruitt says. "So they're a year older, a year stronger and, hopefully, that pays off."
Because the varsity and JV will both be at LCHS, Friday's meet begins early with a 2 p.m. start time.
Fort Scott's home varsity meet will be held April 20 with the JV meet scheduled for April 24. The KSHSAA has not yet assigned schools to Regional meets, which will be held May 18.