Part of the process for a team reaching a championship level includes development, and that’s no exception for this year’s West Jessamine High School track and field team.
Colts co-head coach Aaron Ames didn’t hesitate to allude to that fact, acknowledging that his young squad “probably won’t be able to compete at a level where they’re going to qualify for state.”
“It’s a young team this year,” Ames said. “We got a lot of ninth-graders and 10th-graders, so probably the core focus this year will be developing some of these younger athletes, preparing them to compete at a higher level.”
Ames said the Colts do have a couple of ninth- and 10th-graders among that group who have improved since the start of last year that he believes have raised their personal expectations this season, and are more hopeful of being state level competition.
Included in that mix are sophomores Jared Griffith and Keith Harmon, who are sprinters, and sophomore Kenneth Wireman. Wireman competed at state last season as part of the 4x400-meter relay team.
“Our team is younger than it has been in previous years,” Ames said. “We got a pole vaulter that come back from last year that qualified for state; two guys that ran the 4x400; one that ran the 4x800; one that threw shot put, so I think we’re hoping to still qualify for a couple of relays and other events are our goal this year.”
“One of the guys that does a little bit of everything is (junior) Isaiah Kang,” Ames said. Kang competed with Wireman on the team’s state-qualifying 4x400 team last season.
According to Ames, senior Carson Daniels, who was injured last season, is in Ames and co-head coach Heath Crist’s plans to fill the team’s requirement for the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams.
“Our biggest strength right now is looking toward our 4x400 relay, and possibly 4x800 relay. So I think relays are probably more of a strength right now than individual events. We do have a two-miler (junior Gavin Davis) who did well in cross-country this year and is working pretty hard in the two-miles, so he has the potential to qualify.”
The brother of Isaiah Kang, junior Joseph Kang, also competed at state last season, placing third in the pole vault.
“The field events require a significant amount of technical ability and technique, so it’s something that comes with time,” Ames said. “It’s kind of the goal, is to get a feel for some of these younger athletes and see where they might be able to excel in field events, as well as running events, so that we can make sure we’re preparing for the future and have them be able to compete in almost every event.”
The Colts girl’s team also returns a handful of state qualifiers, including senior Abby Wiggins, who won the girls’ state title in the 100-meter hurdle with a time of 15.50 seconds, good enough for second overall at the state level. She also placed second in the 300-meter hurdle.
“It’s a good quality group, and it’s a group that’s willing to work hard,” Ames said. “With the size (10 girls), it’s a group we also look to use to focus on relay.”
Returning for the Colts are eighth grader Megan Chaffin, freshman Sasha Stryker and sophomore Noel Endicott. The three, along with Kailey Brewster, placed fifth at state in the 4x800-meter relay.
Ames said since the relay team has already competed at state, he just wants them to be able to improve upon their times as a means of development.
“Our first outdoor meet is March 16, so we’re just looking forward to seeing how far we’ve come after we’ve been practicing for a little over a month,” Ames said. “It’s always exciting to see where kids are.”