Dubois track to have many numbersMarch 27, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
DUBOIS — Leslie Denu admits she’s a bit leery about trying to teach online and prefers to interact face-to-face with her students.
However, the Northeast Dubois track and field coach has accepted that things must change as everyone does their part to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus’ spread. Denu wishes she could keep to her originally planned practice schedule, but she’s encouraged from seeing the kids gather and run around town on their own.
“I know our upperclassmen are excited to get started, if we can get started,” she said. “They’ve been working hard on their own (and) asking what can they do because we can’t practice.”
Even with the surreal circumstances, Denu is eager to build on what the Jeeps did last year. The girls and boys finished fourth and eighth, respectively, at sectionals and returned three of their four regional qualifiers. The girls had senior Maggie Stephenson (hurdles) and junior Morgan Schepers (pole vault). Junior Dante Miller was the lone boys regional qualifier in the 110 hurdles.
Denu said the girls will again be one of the smaller area teams with only 16 athletes, so they’ll each have to prepare for covering two or three events at meets. But a lot of the major point scorers will be back. Senior Shelby Livingston will lead the middle distance events. Stephenson will cover hurdles and high jump events. Schepers will take up pole vault once again, and fellow junior Adelle Fravell will get her points at sprints and long jump. Sophomore Aisha Deel will also tackle the sprints, and sophomore Sabrina Dunning will contribute in the long distance events. Freshman Emma Betz will take up throwing, and Denu thinks that other freshmen who ran cross country in the fall will be great additions to the team’s mid and long distance group.
“I have a lot returning from the year before,” said Denu. “I feel like they have good leadership, and they were able to rally and do well against bigger schools. We will definitely be strong in our middle distance to distance events. We’re working hard in our jumps and vault. That’s where we’ll get a lot of our points.”
The boys team was pretty young last season, so Denu is excited to keep building with so many returning athletes. Senior Ethan Breitwieser will be back at mid and long distance runs. Senior transfer Ethan Fromme will be at sprints and high jump. Miller returns to hurdles and will be a jumper as well. Junior Carter Beckman and sophomore Eric Ehrhard will take to the skies at pole vault. Junior Pierce Brinkman will run the one and two mile races, and might moonlight at the 800 and some relays. Junior Eli Lueken is slotted at the sprints and jumps. Junior Parker Beckman and sophomore Grant Schepers will hold down the throwing events.
“I haven’t had a lot of them yet because of basketball season,” said Denu, who’ll have 34 boys to work with this season. “They were supposed to go to regionals. I’m excited to see them if and when I get to.”
Denu thinks both the boys and girls can achieve high marks both as individuals and a team. She thinks a top finish at sectional is possible for both teams and believes a lot of athletes who came close to qualifying for regional last season can put themselves over this year. In the meantime, she’s keeping her fingers crossed on the hopes of having a season.
“For both teams, top four at sectional is the goal,” she said. “I see those teams improving on last year, and a lot of the athletes that have come back (can) improve and make it to regional. They're working hard and putting in extra time on their own to do that. We’re going to try hard, if and when we get to try.”
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