West Platte track and field coaches Steve Feiden and Bailee Giger has an eye toward the bigger meets of the season — conference, districts, sectionals and the state championships.
This year, the two, along with the rest of the Bluejays have circled April 21 as a meet that will be just as important. Middle-of-the-season events are a dime a dozen, but that Saturday will be special for those in Weston, as it will be the newly renamed Nathan Danneman Invitational, honoring the late coach at West Platte High School.
“Coach Giger and I have always used our in season meets as training and preparation for districts, but this one will be a little different,” Feiden said. “We (our kids and coaches) will no doubt carry a lot of emotion into this meet, and I am excited to be part of this inaugural event.”
West Platte should have a talented bunch on both sides, that will help them not only compete for team title there, but will keep the Bluejays near the top of the standings in other meets.
The girls return two relay teams that were all-state last year in the third-place 4x800-meter and the 4x400 that was eighth and the team that took 13th.
Senior Rachel Heili and junior Lindsay Goodwin are on both of those teams and each helped West Platte win the state cross country championship this fall, which should bode well for the distance events. Junior Lea Moose and senior Sikoya Richard are also returning on the 4x800 team and are on the state cross country title team.
Senior Ciara Davies and sophomore Faith Stevens — a sectional qualifier in the high and triple jumps — joins Goodwin and Heili as returners on the 4x400 team. Davies anchored the 4x200 team that also qualified for state, which also returns senior Emily Norman — a sectional qualifier in the 100 hurdles — Stevens and sophomore Tori Norman.
Freshman Sophia Rush and sophomore Lexi Elmore, two of the top runners on the cross country team, will provide immediate impact in the distance events.
Elmore was a state qualifier in Class 4 last year for Platte County in the 3,200-meter run and was on the fourth-place 4x800 relay team.
Junior Amanda Lowell will be the top thrower for the Bluejays, which lost discus state champion Sydney Oberdiek to graduation and as well as her coach David Rozak, who went to Park Hill.
“I’m so excited for this upcoming season,” Giger said. “I want the girls to build off the success our cross country team experienced this fall and continue to send a record number of runners to the state track meet. We are looking to make strides in the sprints and mid-long distance events, and train throwers to fill Sydney’s shoes.”
The Bluejays brought home a plaque last spring for a district runner-up on the boys side and bring back plenty with varsity experience. Returning seniors are Justin Howard, Gavin Raney, Andrew Cicha, Dylan Locke, Cole Whale and Aidan Sullivan while the junior class returns Cole Vandal and Max Davies.
The Bluejays, like on the girls side, will have big shoes to fill in the throwing event due to the graduation of Cameron Johnson and Quinn Johnson.
Freshman Brandon James and Zach Scroggins, along with upperclassmen Preston Bishop and Sam Davis are among the newcomers that could help West Platte.
“We don’t have huge numbers out for track this season, but we have a lot of returning talent and some fresh faces that will really make us a well rounded team,” said Fieden, entering his second-year, while assistant coaches Paul Thomas and Clinton Spencer are newcomers. “After our second-place district finish last spring, we are using that as fuel to train and prepare for the No. 1 plaque this year.”