ILWACO — Always a big question for coach Sarah Taylor going into the Ilwaco High track and field season — who will be making up the relay teams?
Last year, the Fishermen not only advanced all five of their relay teams to state, they ended the season atop the podium at the state championships after the 4x200 team of Annessa Woodby, Eliza Bannister, Ebby McMullen and Alayna Marsh placed first. But with Woodby graduating after last season, that opens the door to competition for the spot — something that Taylor thinks makes those teams so good.
“They have to make the team. You have to be the fastest. You have to earn it and keep earning it. There’ always someone watching for your spot. It keeps everybody pushing, because there’s somebody behind you looking for that spot and to bump you out of it. They get the glory so everybody’s trying to push their way onto a relay. You gotta keep working or you’re going to lose your spot.”
As for that spot on the 4x200? Taylor noted Kaytlenn Wheldon had worked really hard last year and ran cross country in the fall.
“We also have some new freshmen, we’ll see how they do,” said Taylor, who pointed out a number of young runners on the rise, including freshman Carli Kemmer.
“She had a really good cross country season. She’d never done it before and then really kind of took off at the end.”
Taylor also has a number of runners returning as sophomores she’s expecting to do well.
“Nisa Mendoza has been working really hard in practice. She’s looking to improve this season,” said Taylor. “Tristan Trudell has been coming along. Daniel Whiting has done a lot of runs on his own during the wintertime. Sophia Marsh just started picking up the javelin last year, and she did some stuff this summer with the javelin, some camps and stuff.”
In the field events, Taylor said Parker Kaech grew over the summer and has “A lot of jumping potential. High jump, long jump, maybe some triple.”
Seniors Cahlabe Wheldon and Marcus Conner were both throwers that Taylor highlighted.
“Those guys should be ready this year,” she said.
The Fishermen will of course have several athletes returning with state meet experience from last season, including seniors Eliza Bannister and McKenzie Kaech and junior Alex Kaino, who broke his own school record in the 300 meter hurdles at the state meet last season.
The Fishermen start off their season with a tour of local rival schools, beginning with the season opener in South Bend on March 15, at Raymond on March 22 and at Naselle on March 29. The Fishermen host their first of two home meets on April 26.