After performances like the ones he saw Friday at Bishop Stadium, Manhattan track and field coach Jesse Woodard can’t help but envision big things for his boys’ track team.
With more than 90 points separating his first-place Indians from second-place Emporia, Woodard pointed to his team’s depth, which has only been growing over the last several weeks, as some of his sprinters have returned to competition following injuries.
“Our depth is tremendous,” Woodard said. “When we load up at league, it’s going to be real tough to beat us. That’s our first step to one of our goals is league, so we’ll worry about that first, but obviously we have some higher goals than league this year.
“I’ve said it before, it’ll come down to whether we can stay healthy.”
While the Manhattan boys were dominant Friday, the girls’ team came up just short of a team title, falling by half a point to Emporia, though on a normal day the Indians likely would have come out on top.
“Stephanie Shanower didn’t have a good day in the discus, didn’t even make the finals, she scratched all three of her throws,” Woodard said. “So we got first and second there, instead of first, second and third.
“And we held Alaina (Schroeder) out of the two-mile this week. She ran tough at KU last week, so we held her out, and that probably would have been 10 points.”
Schroeder said her goals for the rest of the year are to break five minutes flat in the mile and break the school record of 10:50 in the two-mile.
“I think a lot of it starts mentally, just being committed and wanting to make the best of this season,” Schroeder said. “I broke 11 at KU, but there’s still the school record out there to try and get, and I want to break five in the mile. The school record is 5:04, so that’s a goal, too.”
Woodard said the girls won’t enjoy the kind of depth the boys’ team does, but is still capable of doing big things this year.
“The girls are a work in the progress,” he said. “Our depth’s not quite there, but they battle hard. The thing I like is each week, they’re getting better and better.”
Manhattan got wins from Shanower in the shot put (36-8), Kylie James in the discus (130-0) and Schroeder in the 800 (2:22.83) and the 1,600 (5:14.37).
“It’s a pretty good day — to lose by half a point isn’t bad, and Emporia has a real nice girls’ team this year,” Woodard said. “We’ll load up events at league, which is coming up in a few weeks. League will be tough, but we’re hoping to have everybody at full strength by then.”
While the boys’ team used its depth to gain an advantage in the team standings, they also won 10 events on Friday.
Brandon Nowlin was the lone winner in the throws, winning the discus with a 156-6 performance. Kaden Frasier won the high jump (6-0), while Sam Livsey took first in the triple jump (45-4 3/4).
“Kaden Frasier in the high jump, and Sam Livsey in the triple jump have both been tremendous the last couple weeks,” Woodard said. “Sam hit 45-4 at Great Bend, so to hit it again this week is big.”
On the track, Manhattan won both the 4x800 (8:08.59) and the 4x400 (3:25.93) with ease, running a different combination of guys in the 4x400 with solid results. Tre Daniels helped the Indians regain the lead before handing the baton to Chris Martin, who extended the lead with an impressive showing.
“The atmosphere is great,” Martin said of the 4x400. “We threw two of our sprinters in there, and they got the job done. Tre with a 50.7 is really solid - he got us back into first and I had to finish.”
Woodard said the lineup change was effective.
“That was nice,” Woodard said of his 4x400 team. “That’s the first time we’ve run that group of kids together. For Tre to come out and run the way he did in the 4x4 after sitting out two weeks, I’m pretty pleased with that.”
Daniels won the 100 with a 10.88, while Henry Bieber took the 200 in 22.36. Martin, in addition to anchoring both the 4x800 and the 4x400, won the 400 in 50.95, while finishing a second off the school record.
“Chris is being very consistent, and he’s such a strong finisher,” Woodard said. “He’s still about a second off — he needs to run a 49.9, but he’s getting close to that school record. I think he’ll get it. He gets better and better each week.”
Martin said the chance to break the school record is driving him to train harder.
“That school record. 49.9, it’s just a second away,” he said. “I’ve got to keep pushing and training hard with the rest of the team and get the job done.”
In the distance races, Michael Melgares won the 1,600 in 4:30.80 while Chris Melgares won the 3,200 in 9:41.71.
Manhattan also got a solid performance from Mike Settembrino (3rd, 42.75) in the 300 hurdles, an event he is still adjusting to.
“Mike Settembrino in the 300 hurdles — he hasn’t hurdled since eighth grade, and he’s running 42s,” Woodard said. “He still goes over the hurdle a little unorthodox, so if we clean up his form, he’ll be good.”
The Indians also got points from freshman Josh Haus in the javelin (2nd, 153-4).
“Josh started out at 130, then went a little higher, but to come out today and hit 153 is big for a freshman,” Woodard said. “Talking to Coach (Tom) Brosius, he thinks if he keeps working at it, he can be a contender at the end of the year.”