BHS Girls Track Team to Begin Defense of State Title Friday with Large, Talented Roster at Their Disposal
The fact that 52 girls are part of the 2017 Bridgeport High School’s girls track roster is impressive. Even more impressive is that of that total, 40 are returning from last year’s Class AA state championship squad.
Just what that translates to remains to be seen. However, a lot of that will be found out when the season officially gets underway this Friday and Saturday in the first meet of the campaign.
“This team is very talented and should hold their own among the state again. However, there are a few other teams who have a lot returning and will be a tough matchup,” said Coach Emilee Stout, who has two state titles and a runner-up finish in the past three years. “I'm anticipating a solid year from these girls and hope they continue working hard in practice.”
While the cupboard is far from bare, it’s hard not to talk about the Indians’ chances for a repeat without mentioning senior McKenna Smith. Not only is Smith already committed to West Virginia University, she’s coming off a season in which she may have turned in the single most dominant state track meet performance in state history – regardless of class.
Last year, Smith won the 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes. She won the 100 meters with a time of 11.89 seconds. That was good enough not only for a win, but the overall state title in any class. The 200 time was 24.37 seconds, also good for a win and new state record – not just a state meet record. She also set the standard in the 400 with a time of 55.25 seconds.
The only event in which Smith didn’t set the state’s all-time standard was in the 300 meter hurdles. She managed just a time of 44.03 seconds, which was only good enough for a state meet mark. Still, Smith toppled the all-time record in the state by nearly a second with a time of 55.25 seconds, which ended a three-decades-plus mark in state competition.
Those wins gave Smith 40 points, which hypothetically would have allowed her to finish fifth overall in Class AA. Her high medalist honors with four wins – and 40 points – was done for only the fourth time in meet history.
“We anticipate another successful year with her and hope to see more records broken. I like her leadership and drive to keep improving,” said Stout.
Stout also had no problem pointing out several others that should be in the mix to help the Indians do big things this year. The coach singled out Kirstin George, Isabella Bowen, Catie Wilson, Kristen Crowder, Rory Marple, Juliet Hart, Jenna Soltesz, Julia Muller, Jenna Love and Hailie Davis as returnees that should make a difference.
“Isabella Bowen is running really well and looks great in practice. I'm looking forward to watching her this year. Crowder, George, Wilson and Hart are all key returners in our sprint relays. Wilson will hopefully be back full swing soon coming off of an ACL repair in the fall,” said Stout. “Julia Muller and Jenna Soltesz are solid distance runners for us and really make a difference in those events. Marple has a lot of potential in the high jump and long jump.”
Stout also is pleased with the dozen new faces that will wear the school colors this year. And not all of them are freshman.
“We have several freshmen and a few other upper class girls who have come out who will step up to our challenge as a team,” said Stout. “I can already tell a difference in their work ethic, as a whole, compared to the last couple years. This groups seems focused and they work hard.”
Stout said while most know where the team’s strengths are, she said there are a couple of areas where she’s hoping to see an uptick in performance. If that happens, it could be another strong year.
“We are hoping to see more from our field events and hurdles. We have good numbers in all these events, but hope for more points across our meet schedule this year,” she said.
The season starts with the Connect-Bridgeport Invitational March 24-25 at Wayne Jamison Field. The two-day meet begins Friday at 4 p.m. Action then resumes Saturday March 25 at 9 a.m.