When the Whetstone boys track and field team competed March 27 at Northland for its first meet since 2019, 28th-year coach Joe Monda said it felt like a breath of fresh air.
The Braves finished second (60) behind Eastmoor Academy (103) as 13 teams scored.
“I think for all of us, coaches especially, we were like, ‘Here we are, finally,’ ” Monda said. “It was great after missing all of last year” because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
It was a strong opening performance for Whetstone, which returns four seniors at the top of an inexperienced roster.
Thaine Nederveld, Matthew Conroy, Brack Dillon and Abdourahman Sallah are the only seniors with varsity experience and are expected to lead the Braves’ roster of 23 athletes.
“Those are going to be our main guys that we rely on,” Monda said. “They’re going to be leading a bunch of young new runners, too. They’ve (all) done very well for us in the past and we obviously are hoping they do great things this year.
“We’ve got some variety (in events) there.”
Nederveld will be primarily a distance and middle-distance runner, mainly competing in the 800 meters to the 3,200.
“He’s who we’ll rely on mostly for our distance,” Monda said. “I’m expecting big things from him.”
Last fall, Nederveld placed 46th of 177 runners in the Division I state cross country meet.
Conroy also runs distance, competing in the 800 and 3,200 and the 1,600 relay.
Monda said Dillon will be one of the Braves’ main sprinters, while Sallah will compete in hurdles and relays and the long jump.
Sophomores Maitland Neff and Wyatt Starkie, both middle distance and distance runners, have been impressive early on, according to Monda.
“They ran really well in cross country and they’re looking good right now,” he said.
Sophomore Kiefer Young also is expected to contribute in sprints, and sophomore Ishmael Obas is expected to participate in sprints, relays and long jump.
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
Coach: Joe Monda, 28th season
Next meet: April 13 at Centennial
Top athletes: Matthew Conroy, Brack Dillon, Thaine Nederveld and Abdourahman Sallah
Girls track team
faces uphill climb
Monda, who oversees the girls track team alongside first-year coach Adam Berry, said it also is dealing with inexperience and a lack of numbers.
But he said the 16 athletes are working hard every day.
“(The girls team) is an even smaller team. It’s so small that if one person’s out we have to change everything,” Monda said. “We have very small teams this year, but what we’ve got we’re working hard.
“(The girls) are working hard, I can tell you that.”
Senior Mira Dush, who Monda said is coming off an injury, is one of only three seniors on the team. She’ll compete in middle distance to distance events, particularly the 400 up to the 1,600.
“She’s coming back, but she’s been looking really good in practice,” Monda said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her race.”
Senior Mataya Stokes will mainly compete in sprint events and relays, while senior Jane Carney will compete in middle-distance events, hurdles and relays.
Outside of the three seniors, other key runners include sophomores Haley Harkins and Summer Dush. Harkins will mainly compete in sprints and relays.
Summer Dush, who will compete in sprints and the long jump, has impressed early on, Monda said.
“She’s looked pretty good in practice and she had a pretty good first meet,” he said.
While the Braves are waiting to see what they have from the rest of the roster, Monda said sophomore distance runner Anouk Moritz also has impressed.
“She has really improved as far as what I’ve seen from cross country to here,” he said. “She really looks good for us in the distance (events).”
Whetstone opened March 27 at Northland, finishing fifth (33) of 14 teams behind champion Big Walnut (118).
GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
Coach: Adam Berry, first season
Next meet: April 13 at Centennial
Key athletes: Jane Carney, Mira Dush, Summer Dush, Haley Harkins and Mataya Stokes