With points likely hard to come by, Perry girls will focus on steady improvement

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Academic honors were recently bestowed on the Perry girls track team, both as a unit and for 15 individuals.

Perry girls track head coach Matt Hardy knows a simple truth: Points will be hard to come by for the Jayette thinclads this season.

“I just do not expect a large amount of points,” he said. “We do not have any real 100 meter or 200 meter runners who will score at the better meets and are going to have to focus the lineup to maximize those places where we can score.”

However, Hardy was adamant about his opinion not being seen as a negative one.

“I am very happy with the numbers of girls we have out and along with the assistant coaches will be working hard to see us make improvements in every area,” he said. “That is really the key: Can you improve from meet to meet? That is what we will be looking for. We will be working hard and encouraging all the girls to give their best and make sure they understand that each meet is another chance to set new personal marks, to have success each time out.”

The Jayette 4×800 foursome of Mariah Duffy, Emma Olejniczak, Breanna Penenger and Sidney Vancil placed 20th at the state meet last season in 10 minutes, 15.88 seconds, just .03 seconds slower than the school-record time they posted at the state qualifying meet. All four return.

“That relay did not really come together until late in the year last year,” Hardy said. “They will not run it together all the time, but we will definitely be giving it more focus as the year goes on. I expect them to return to state and to lower their own school record at least once before the season is done.”

All will figure into the 400 and 800 races, with Haileigh Kenyon and Isabel Saemisch a part of the mix as well as Hardy looks at how to configure both sprint and distance medley relays.

State cross country qualifier Grace Stewart will headline the Jayettes at both 1500 and 300, with Duffy and Olejniczak possible choices at 1500 while McKinley Thompson could see 1500, or, more likely, 3000 duties.

Hardy said a wide range of girls would have the opportunity to run in the various 100 and 200-meter races and relays, but that he did not expect to have any 100 high hurdlers nor a shuttle hurdle team.

“Breanna (Penenger) and Haileigh (Kenyon) have mentioned possibly being interested in the 400 low hurdles, so will we see about that as we go,” he said. “At the moment I would expect to leave it open, but they are both good athletes, so you never know.”

Hardy expected the high jump to remain uncontested and noted the long jump was “up for grabs … whoever shows me they can do it well will get the job.”

Senior Taylor Lathrum returns to throw the shot and is likely to try the discus as well this season. Adrian Thompson and Maddie West will also throw for the Jayettes, with Gabby West likely to focus on the discus.

The Bluejays will be joined by their Jayette counterparts in hosting the 9th annual Davis Relays at Kaufman Track Thursday. Both Perry squads will be in action twice next week as they participate in the Gilbert Relays April 5 and at the Hugh Cavanaugh Relays in Woodward April 7. All three meets are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

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