WARRENSBURG — Expectations are high for the Warrensburg girls track team this season, both within the program and from outside observers.
The Lady Tigers are coming off a sixth place finish at the Class 4 State meet and return all three state qualifiers.
“We are hoping to build on the success we had last year,” Warrensburg coach Brad Small said. “Our girls placed sixth at state with three girls there and we are hoping to get more of them there and hopefully make a run at a trophy.”
MileSplits Missouri pegged the Warrensburg girls for a second place finish at state in their preseason poll.
The primary culprit behind the high ranking is senior Makenzy Mizera, who qualified for three events — long jump, triple jump and the 100m hurdles. Mizera claimed the long jump title, finished second in the triple jump and failed to qualify for the final race in the hurdles.
“She is gunning for the triple jump title, she doesn’t like getting second, she doesn’t like getting beat,” Small said. “Hopefully, get her there in more events, she qualified last year in the hurdles and hopes to get a medal out of that and she’s got potential to do really good things in the high jump.”
The senior will look to add high jump to her state weekend after reaching sectionals in all four events, but only qualifying for state in three.
“I just need to work hard and focus on consistency at meets and gradually building up,” Mizera said.
The Liberty University track commit already holds the school record in the long jump and the triple jump.
“You kind of have to take it one step at a time and focus on one thing and once you get that down, you can keep adding on more and more,” Mizera said. “I just want to keep getting better. So each technical aspect, I can focus on that. You never get to that perfect level, you can always work and make it better.”
The Lady Tigers title chances are bolstered by state champion junior Paige VanBlaricon, who took the javelin title and state qualifier Gabby Hoke in pole vault.
Paige VanBlarcum, along with her sister Brandi, will look to repeat her title in the javelin.
“Both her and her sister, they compete neck and neck all year long,” Small said. “They push each other, they feed off each other.”
On the boys side, Warrensburg will be led by long distance runners Marquette Wilhite and Colton Palmer, both state qualifiers.
Wilhite captured two state medals, taking eighth in the 800m and 1,600m. Palmer finished 10th in the 800m and 13th in the 3,200m.
“Definitely want to step up in the mile and two mile and hopefully take a state championship there as well,” Wilhite said.
Patrick Finnane will look to reach the state meet in the pole vault after missing the cut a season ago.
Small is keen on Cade Conley making some noise in the high jump.
“Cade Conley has been working really hard in the offseason, had a really good year training and went to a couple indoor meets and really done some good things,” Small said. “We are hoping to get him there for the first time.”
The most noticeable difference of the Warrensburg track program is its size with 120 athletes on the roster, the largest in four or five years Small believes.
“I think we are almost 120 kids strong right night, which as a coaching staff is very, especially for me, is very encouraging to see those athletes wanting to come out and try the sport and that gives us a bigger talent pool,” Small said. “We’ve got a lot of young athletes, but a lot of talented athletes as well so a lot of those kids are up and coming and jumping right in.”
Warrensburg topped out at 80 athletes a year ago.
“I think a lot of it deals with how we are running the program,” Small said. “We are building it more as a family aspect.”
Warrensburg opens its season on March 19.