POULSBO — Though it will be tough to rival the excitement of the Viking success on the short track last year, 2007 is building up to be a big year in the field, and possibly even larger in long distance.
The Viking throwers, jumpers and distance runners are forming the nucleus of the family for which Viking track made itself known in 2006. The distance crew is made up largely of North’s cross-country team which carried on that emphasis during the fall season with a team trip to state.
“I think it should be good for us,” senior Zac Simmons said of having more than 10 members of this year’s state boys cross country team out for track. “Our guys in cross country have a great work ethic, and we should be able to help each other along with that.”
No matter how individualized track is — both in scoring and competing — a solid team atmosphere has the power to evoke greatness, as evidenced by last year’s boys track team’s push through league and almost onto state. The Vikings 400x100M relay team and then-senior Dak Kongela ended up earning state berths to Pasco, where Kongela cashed in on a 100M state championship.
“(This year) We have different parts of the whole that are working well together, we’re pretty well-rounded,” head girls coach Dave Snyder said. “There’s excitement this year about a whole other group of people.”
That group includes junior sprinter Greg Ottele — who was a leg in last year’s statebound 400x100M relay — mid-distance runners Kelly Cates, Ruby Roberts and long distance men Cody Bradwell and Nick Cameron.
This year’s squad is new and it is young, Snyder said. At least half of the team is from the sophomore class, he estimated.
“In high school, it’s all about perfection,” sophomore javelin thrower Michelle Lloyd said. “I’ve already learned a lot technique-wise.”
The Vikings took the field in earnest on Feb. 26, and through the first few weeks of preseason practice, Lloyd said she has found a wealth of knowledge and a welcoming environment.
“We’ve got good senior leadership,” Snyder said. “The kids that are here are staying here.”
The Vikings numbers — a total of about 80 kids — are down from an exceptionally high count at the beginning of last year, however, Snyder said that after a typical period of spring sports attrition an 80-count is decent.
And more than an estimated two-thirds of the Vikings out for track are double or triple sport athletes with supreme drive and an aim at the state tournament.
“Just knowing if you put in the work you’ll get it back and it will show itself pretty quickly,” Simmons said.
After putting in the work of pre-season practice through rain, shine and even a little bit of snow, the Vikings will get their first return Thursday as they travel to Silverdale for the Kitsap County Classic.
The Vikings will also be hosting three meets at the NKHS stadium in 2007, anyone who would like to volunteer is encouraged to get in touch with Snyder at (360) 620-1293 or the boys head coach Kaelea Makaiwi Barreith at (360) 598-8477.