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It was all going according to plan for Mark Rickerd and Whitko girls’ track and field team as offseason workouts continued through January.
A good mix of seniors along with past conference champions joined a talented freshmen class.
Atop the group of returners was hurdler Micaela Sylvester coming back for her third season with the Lady Wildcats. Sylvester made an immediate impact as a freshman and was Whitko’s top points scorer in 2010 as a sophomore.
All indications had Sylvester doing that yet again in 2011.
The hopes of that were dashed Feb. 9 when Sylvester took the court in the opening sectional game for the Lady Wildcats basketball team.
A knee injury early in the second half forced Sylvester to the sidelines for the game and the entire track season.
“The frustrating thing is if we still had Micaela and added the freshmen (like Taylor Zwick and Miranda Terrill) to the mix, it would have been the strongest time we’ve had in a long time,” Whitko head coach Mark Rickerd said. “But it is what it is. It’s frustrating to Micaela and to everyone but we’re making adjustments and carrying on.”
The void by Sylvester was felt across four events Tuesday night as the Lady Wildcats opened the outdoor season at Southwood.
An 82-40 win had a pair of seniors taking over the hurdle duties.
Senior Rachelle Kessie added the 100-meter high hurdles to her list of events that also includes high jump and 400 relay.
Fellow senior Ashlee McHaney took the 300 hurdles against Southwood.
A field of 27 Lady Wildcats come in with high expectations in the Three Rivers Conference.
Despite losing Sylvester, Whitko is in search of its first TRC title since beating Wabash by one point in 2008.
According to Rickerd, the Lady Apaches will be the measure stick of where they stand.
The Lady Wildcats test comes next Tuesday with Wabash coming to town in the home opener.
“Wabash will be extremely tough,” Rickerd noted. “They have everyone back.”
Whitko finished second to Wabash in 2010 by a 138.33 to 123.83 score.
Among the best in the conference, junior Kelsie Boggs returners as a former champion in the sprints.
As a freshman, Boggs burst onto the scene and hasn’t faded with wins in the 100 and 200 dash event Tuesday.
Joining Boggs, Cagney Craig has been slowed down by injury. Still able to compete in the running events, Craig will be out of the long jump.
The long jump will be a spot where freshmen have to contribute. Taylor Zwick did it Tuesday winning the long jump at 15-feet, 1 1/2-inches.
“We have a good freshmen class,” Rickerd said. “Taylor and Miranda Terrill are going to be some good athletes in the future.”