“Overall we have a really young team, this year will be a learning experience for all of us, having the girls PR week by week is always the main goal,” said Ecker. “Some of them will come into the season as threats and the others have the potential to become threats. It’s all about putting in the time to make ourselves better, and from what I’ve seen these kids aren’t afraid of hard work.”
Four returning letter winners will lead the Lancers in 2019. Senior Julia Hall returns in the shot and disc, junior Natalie Gonzalez leads the returning sprinters, junior Emily Talaga come back as a hurdler, and junior Trynitie Cox returns in the long jump and 400 meter dash.
Ecker says the overall number of student-athletes might be down, but likes what she has to work with.
“I think our greatest strength is the quality of athletes we have,” said the first-year coach. “We don’t quite have the numbers I would like to have, but we have a bunch of coachable athletic kids. They show up and work hard and we will try plugging them in wherever we can to fill up our events.”
Kalista Lemberis is back as the top sprinter from a year ago.
“Kalista was the only returning team member that made it out of our very tough sectional, and placed seventh in the 200 meter dash at the Kokomo Regionals last year. We are excited to see what a year with more maturity and experience will do for her.
“Natalie Gonzalez is back, she was always a close second, and up from Jr. High I expect an impressive freshman season out of Olivia Goze,” continued Ecker. “Freshman Madelyn Fuchs is also looking good during hurdle run throughs”
Ecker is looking to freshman and top cross country runner Faith Rock to lead the distance events.
“Right now Faith Rock is our main distance runner,” said Ecker. “She put the miles in during the cross country season, and then went from basketball to track and she is already in phenomenal shape. Working on pacing on a track is a bit different than running the 5K course, but she is young and I’m sure she will figure it out very quickly.”
In the events Hall and Emerson Lemberis return with experience.
“We are a strong field event team,” explained Ecker. “Julia Hall is one of our two seniors and a leader on our throwing team, she always performs strongly. Emerson Lemberis is our only experienced pole vaulter, which is a brand new event to everyone else. It will be fun to watch her and the other vaulters.
“Abby Leonhard is also picking up pole vaulting quickly, she finished up long jumping in the high 12’s last year as an eighth grader. Actual pit time will only make her better. Fuchs is eager to break the 5′ mark in the high jump. She was so close last year in junior high so being able to practice in a proper facility will have a huge impact on her jumps.”
Ecker now has the task of finding the right combination of student-athletes to place in the appropriate event.
“The biggest obstacle to success is getting the right bodies into each of the events,” said Ecker. “Track & Field is all about numbers the fastest, longest, farthest, highest win, we have several ladies that can win individual events, but getting enough points to pull off a team win may be difficult with only 14 girls. With a small team and a young team, every week is about breaking PRs and showing that continual growth. That is what really excites me.”
Just like the guys, the gals are equally as excited to return to run at Lancer Field.
“We haven’t had a home meet in eight years and we haven’t had a track to practice on in two years,” recalled Ecker. “Being able to not only practice at home, and have a track to host again is huge. These kids have never known what it feels like to have a home field advantage and the support that comes with that. I hope that the excitement that this generates helps retain athletes and grow our numbers into the future.”
The gals are also excited to host Lancer Relays again.
“This is huge!” said Ecker. “Lancer Relays is such a fun event. I was able to participate in a few in the late 1990’s and I’m excited for the teams to experience this again. There is something special about fighting for that ‘W’ in your own invite. We are also doing a Lancer Community Service Event that night. We will be hosting a canned food drive to support our local food banks before summer hits.”
Ecker is also excited to see how well her team performs at the Hoosier North Athletic Conference Championships on May 7 at Knox High School.
“We had several girls do well at HNAC last year,” concluded Ecker. “Most of them are all back with another year of experience and an infusion of an athletic freshman class. I think we will make a very strong showing.”
LaVille will open the season Tuesday, March 19, at Lancer Field against Bremen and John Glenn. Field events are scheduled to start at 5 p.m.