TRACK: Letter winners expected to shine in 2021 return
Centre High track coach Alan Stahlecker gave tired girls’ basketball players a week off before starting track, but suspected the team might be in for a longer break.
The three boys and five girls who went out this year managed to squeeze in four workouts before Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly shut the state’s schools for the rest of the year in favor of distance learning to stem an outbreak of Covid-19.
“I was able to see the writing on the wall, but I didn’t know it would be that drastic,” said Stahlecker of the abrupt end to what would have been his 11th year as Centre’s head track coach.
He and other track coaches had the team try out competitive events, but many still weren’t sure what they were going to do.
A distance runner for the team wanted a crack at throwing, while another athlete considered long jump.
“I just wanted to help the kids compete as best as they could,” he said.
A small squad and limited event coverage would hamper team scoring as it had in the past, but Stahlecker still expected great things from several team members, notably returning senior Jensen Riffel.
Riffel just missed earning a trip to state in shot put this past year during regionals, hurling a personal best of 44 feet, 8 inches.
He ended his first-ever season for Center with 163 points after spending two years playing baseball for Marion High.
Centre High twin juniors Alyssa and Samantha Espinoza were also expected to be standouts.
They led the girls’ team in triple and long-jump this past year as well as the 4x100-meter relay they ran with sophomore Carly Dines.
Stahlecker looked forward to another year of watching his competitors challenge each other to get better.
“They did really well with that,” he said of the short time they had.
Last modified March 26, 2020