With 120 athletes on the roster, the Ankeny Centennial girls’ track team boasts a lot of depth in multiple areas.
New head coach Tyler Asbe, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant for the Ankeny girls’ team, likes what he has seen thus far from his squad.
“The practices are going really well,” said Asbe. “The girls have come to practice with great attitudes and eagerness to work hard and get better every day. We have an outstanding group of seniors who have really stepped up as leaders during practice, and that has been great for the underclassmen to see and look up to. The girls have also been very receptive of the new concepts that our coaching staff have provided. I have been impressed with the buy-in I’ve seen from our team.”
The Jaguars placed 20th in last year’s Class 4A state meet with 13 points. There are 15 returning state qualifiers from that team.
Senior Rondi Quass, junior Kambria Leazer and sophomore Kylin Smith are the team’s top returnees. They were all placewinners at the state meet.
Quass, a Tennessee recruit, is one of the state’s top distance runners. She placed fifth in the 3,000 with a time of 10:17.40, then later set a school record while taking sixth in the 1,500 in 4:41.14.
Quass also anchored the 14th-place distance medley relay. She ran the 800-meter anchor leg in 2:22.7.
Smith set a school record in the 400 hurdles, placing fourth in that event in 1:05.84. She also ran on the 18th-place sprint medley relay and anchored the 20th-place shuttle hurdle relay.
Leazer, meanwhile, qualified for state in both jumping events. She tied for sixth in the high jump at 5 feet and placed 16th in the long jump with a leap of 15-9.5.
Leazer earlier set a school record in the long jump at the CIML Iowa Conference meet, where she won the event with a jump of 18-6.
“I think we’ve got some great athletes on this team,” Asbe said. “We will have some strong contributions across the board this year. Our sprint and distance groups are strong as we bring back a number of state qualifiers. We also have returning qualifiers in the long jump and high jump. Also, I love what I am seeing with the culture surrounding our team. The girls have been very positive and supportive of each other and are forming great bonds. The supportive environment and strong team culture we are building will carry us through the season.”
Among the other returning qualifiers are Julia Flick, Bella Hodges, Maddy LaVoi and Anika Mohrhauser.
LaVoi tied for 12th in the high jump. She joined Leazer in clearing the bar at 5 feet.
Mohrhauser placed 16th in the 3,000. She posted a time of 11:04.21.
Flick took 14th in the 400 in 1:00.61. She also ran the opening leg on the 13th-place 4×400 relay.
Hodges finished 20th in the 1,500 in a time of 4:55.00. She also joined Flick on the 17th-place 4×800 relay.
Addi Arringdale, Mariah Belzer, Charli Brady, Cam Hershberger, Layla Hughes, Addie Pollock, Morgan Posusta and Malin Vallejo are the other returning qualifiers. Hughes is a Loras College recruit.
Belzer, a Rogers State softball recruit, ran on the 12th-place 4×100 relay. Arringdale and Posusta are also back from that unit.
Arringdale also ran on the distance medley relay, while Posusta joined Hughes on the sprint medley relay. Hershberger anchored the 4×800 relay.
Vallejo and Pollock both ran on the 4×400 relay. Vallejo also joined Brady on the 16th-place 4×200 relay.
“After speaking with the girls, a few of the main team goals we have are to finish in the top 10 as a team at the state meet, finish in the top two at the state qualifying meet and to continue building our team culture,” Asbe said.
Centennial competed at the UNI Indoor meet on Monday. The Jaguars will go to the ISU Indoor meet on Thursday and to the Central Indoor meet on March 18 before opening their outdoor season on March 25 by competing in the Little Hawk Invitational at Iowa City High.
Asbe said it will take awhile for his team to develop into a finished product.
“In order for us to reach our potential this season, the girls will need to maintain consistency and patience with their training,” he said. “They are putting in the work and it will pay off, but it will take time to reach our end goals so patience and consistency are crucial. Also, continuing to build and improve upon the positive environment at practice.
“Being able to feel united as a team and having everyone’s constant support will pay off big time by the end of the season,” he added.