Head Harrison County Thorobreds Track Coach Robert Walker is not one to overstate his situation.
Monday morning when asked about all of the losses his team suffered from last year’s regional champs, he simply said, “We did lose 16 athletes to either injuries or graduation, but we will represent the school in a good way. We lost some great runners, our whole mile relay team and a lot of speed but I believe in the athletes that are still here.”
Gone from last year’s Region 5 AA champs are Brandon Clarke, Campbell Hall, Jacob Marsh and Luke Slusher (the mile relay team) along with hurdler Joey Pratt, sprinters Matt Carter and Joe Korona, middle distance man Tyler Martin and shot put/discus man Mike Jones via graduation.
To compound the graduation losses, Terrell Roberts moved and Deshon Talbott is injured, which further deducts from the speed available.
But you won’t hear Walker complaining or saying “Woe is me.”
No the cupboard is not bare, not by a long shot.
The distance and middle distance runners return in big numbers.
State qualifiers last year, Joey Faulconer, Joe Thomas and Grant Carr headline a returning group that should challenge any in the area.
When Austin Short, Shane Palmer and the Smith brothers, Harry and Ross, are added to this squad, it becomes a formidable array of runners.
Walker smiles when he thinks of his returning speedsters as well as the new runners joining the varsity this year.
Ben Anness and Scott Kendall are back to anchor the speedsters with Davonte Kinney, Jovon Williams, Tyler White and Kenny Hunt ready to compete for the first time in high school.
“This group of young runners and some others who may be out could be some of the fastest we have had here for a while,” he added. “Of course, they will have to work hard and compete before we can count any points from them.”
Walker is positive when it comes to the hurdles.
Another state track qualifier, senior Daniel Klapheke, returns along with freshman Colton Burus to give Coach Walker a solid pair.
Walker also believes that he may have some younger hurdlers who may be able to contribute before the season is over.
The field events will be another source of strength for Harrison County.
Two state finals competitors return in the long jump and triple jump with seniors Elijah Gross and Todd Puckett back for their grand finale.
Puckett also joins junior Mason Ritchie in the high jump to give the Breds two veteran performers.
Junior Taylor Bolin is expected by Walker to return to the state championships this year as he has the experience of the last year’s under his belt.
Dominic Walker also returns to give the Thorobreds a veteran in the shot put and discus.
Coach Walker also believes that senior Robert Pauley will back Dominic Walker in the shot put competition.
“We will be in the running again this year for the regional title,” said Walker. “We won last year and were third and fifth the two previous years. When you consider who we have back and the young people in the freshman and eighth grade classes we should be in the hunt for a good while.”
Walker expects the regular cast of competitors to be the toughest competition again this year.
“Covington Catholic, Lexington Catholic, Highlands and Franklin County will all be good, they are every year,” admitted Walker. “We will be there, too.”