Fort Dodge varsity girls track head coach Todd Constable loves the positive attitude his team has shown as the season is about to begin outdoors.
He feels there is optimism for a successful season because of the group's overall attitude and work ethic leading up to the season, which begins this Thursday at the Boone Invitational.
"We have a great group of kids that have worked hard so far," Constable said. "We will have a better idea where we are after the outdoor season gets started."
Messenger photo by Doug Dornath
The 2012 Fort Dodge girls varsity track returning letterwinners include, front row (left to right): Nicole Cook, Fatima Newsome, TeAna Espinosa and Riley Hartman. Middle: Sarah Rethwisch, Bryanne Kasperbauer, Kenzie Jones, Noel Constable, Drew Washingon and Alexis Peterson. Back: Tara Jackson, Lexi Astor, Tiana Mericle, Rachel Herrington, Madison Bodholdt and Amberly Habhab. Not pictured: Carson Jarrard and Sam Lennon.
Fort Dodge has three senior letterwinners on the squad in Tara Jackson, Teana Espinoza and Noel Constable. Coach Constable said those three are the leaders.
"Each of the girls have great leadership skills," Constable said. "All three have great work ethics. They are dedicated to the program and always positive with the underclassmen.
"Noel was close last year in qualifying for state and we expect her to improve and take it to that next level that she is capable of."
2012 DODGER GIRLS TRACK
Seniors - Noel Constable, Teana Espinoza, Tara Jackson, Samantha Lennon, Victoria Raile.
Juniors - Nicole Cook, Angie Ellendson, Amberly Habhab, Bryanne Kasperbauer, Lateshia Miller, Alexis Peterson, Sarah Rethwisch, Drew Washington.
Sophomores - Lexi Astor, Maddie Bodholdt, Sydney Crotts, Anterrika Diekman, Latreesa Green, Rachel Herrington, Mackenzie Jones, Tiana Mericle, Fatima Newsome.
Freshmen - Breonnah Al-Hameed-Foy, DaQuyla Altman, Da'Shay Cotner, RyAnn Dawson, Ebony Diekman, Katie Frana, Lynzi Harms, Riley Hartman, Carson Jarrard, Amanda Koger.
Mar. 29: at Ames.
April 3: at Waverly-Shell Rock; 10: at Ames; 12: at Waukee; 17: at Cedar Falls; 19: Dodger Relays; 23: at Marshalltown; 26-28: Drake Relays at Des Moines.
May 4: CIML Iowa at Dodger Stadium; 10: Regionals at Dodger Stadium; 17-19: State at Des Moines.
Jackson, who is a returning state qualifier for the Dodgers in both the 1,500 and as the anchor of the distance medley, is the top returning distance runner. Joining her in the distance events this spring include Madison Bodholdt, Sam Lennon and Amber Habhab.
"All will run the 3000, 1500, and 800 at some point in the season," said Constable. "Tara is a former state qualifier that has looked great this preseason."
In the throws, Noel Constable is the top returning discus thrower.
"Noel is our top discus thrower," said Coach Constable. "Rachel Herrington also throws and looks to compete for a varsity spot.
"Kenzie Jones is our leading shot putter. Angie Ellendson has also joined us this year to compete in the shot put."
In the sprints, senior Fatima Newsome and sophomores Tiana Mericle and Lexi Astor are the top returnees as they were members of the state qualifying 4x100, sprint medley and distance medley relays a season ago.
"All three will compete in our relays including the 4x100, sprint medley, distance medley, 4x400 and 4x200," said Constable. "Mericle is our fastest and recently ran a 25.50 200 split in the Iowa State Indoor."
Constable said some of the top newcomers expected to contribute in the sprint events include Breonnah Al-Hameed Foy, Carson Jarrard, Katie Frana, Riley Hartman and Lani Van Zyl.
"All the relays should be competitive," said Constable. "Finding a spot for our top three sprinters will be the key in qualifying as many events in the state meet as possible.
"We are still looking for a fourth sprinter to step up and take that role."
Junior Nicole Cook is the Dodgers' top returning hurdler as she was a state qualifier in the 400-meter low hurdles last season. Constable said there is some promise for his team in some of the other hurdling events as well.
"This may be the first year in a long time that we are able to put together a shuttle-hurdle team with the addition of Jarrard and Hartman, who have shown promise early on," Constable said.
In the field events, Constable said there are a couple of girls who should score some team points at most meets in the long jump.
"Lexi Astor and Carson Jarrard will compete in the long jump," said Constable. "Both are extremely gifted athletes that work very hard at improving every day.
"Lexi was close to qualifying for state last year and we expect big things from her this year. Carson has been competing in track for a very long time and is as dedicated to track as an athlete that I have ever coached."
Overall, Constable said the Dodgers have enough flexibility to score team points in every relay event this spring.
"Our numbers are a little down, but the athletes we have will allow us to be competitive in a number of relays," said Constable. "We also have three home meets: Dodger Relays, our conference meet and regionals. This gives us the advantage of home crowd and eliminates the traveling issues."
Fort Dodge's three home meets this spring include the Dodger Relays April 19, the CIML Iowa Conference meet May 4, and a Class 4A regional meet May 10 at Dodger Stadium.
Assistant coaches for the Dodgers include Kevin Astor, Rachel Hansen and Tim Hanson.