The Thomas Jefferson girls track team is ready to compete.
The Yellow Jackets have about 21 athletes this year, Wadie Thomas, co-head coach with his wife, Lori, said is the lowest in his 11 years coaching the team.
But, he noted, “you can have numbers and not perform well, and not have numbers and do well. We’re hoping to get high quality from this group.”
Among the athletes the Thomases are expecting to step up this year are seniors Brenda Mendoza, middle distance and sprints, Natalia Gaetano, sprints, and Kaitlynn Calabro, distance. As well as juniors Lexi Smith, sprints, Abbie Evers, sprints and middle distance, and Shaeley Bose, sprints and long jump.
Gaetano is a foreign exchange student from Italy, while the others all competed two years ago, Thomas said.
“It’s been a challenge not having last year. The girls missed a full year of competition. That’s an opportunity to improve they did not have,” Wadie Thomas said. “I really missed not coaching last year. We were in the middle of practice when everything came to a halt. I can tell the girls were looking forward to it. And you can see where maybe if we hadn’t missed a year we’d be further along.
“But it’s exciting to have an opportunity to get after it again.”
Thomas said he hopes his team will come out and be competitive at every meet, while also improving throughout the year.
“In track you can win by not only winning the meet, but by having lots of girls PR (set personal records) and perform better than they did before,” Thomas said. “We hope to see people continue to improve and the winning and losing will take care of itself.”
The Jackets open the season at the Clarinda Relays invitational on Tuesday. The meet starts at 4:30 p.m.