Central Junior High's track and field coaches, Kim Henrichs and Scott Forkenbrock, are not sure how good their team can be this year, but they know they have some strong athletes to build around.
"We've got a couple of outstanding sprinters this year in the ninth-grade boys and a good middle-distance runner in the girls, so we have a pretty good team overall," said Henrichs.
He said the Central squad does not have as many team members as some of the other junior highs it competes against and, therefore, the coaches often focus on the individual accomplishments of the Mustangs.
"It's a team event in some ways, but with ours you have to look at the individuals somewhat more because we just don't have the numbers to compete in points totals," Henrichs said. "We just keep encouraging people to improve on their personal best times and their distances and so forth. Each one just needs to improve a little bit each meet."
Henrichs said that approach worked for them last season, even though it might not have shown on the scoreboard.
"We had a small (in numbers) ninth-grade team, but they always did well in the points," he said of last year's squad. "We didn't always place first or second or third, but as far as the points, we accumulated for the number of participants we had, we did quite well."
It is very early in the season now and Central's coaches are unsure of what the team's strong points will be, but they got a glimpse of what they can expect last Tuesday at Southwest's exhibition meet.
The mock event allowed the Central coaches to observe and record times and distances as their athletes proved their worth in certain events.
"You find out which kids are able to run in certain events," Henrichs said. "And you see which ones might be good for the relay team."
Central freshman Aundre Allen said he and his teammates viewed it as an opportunity to find out about themselves.
"We can learn from it, find out what we need to do," he said. "It just shows me what I need to improve on and stuff, so it's just like a practice pretty much."
Henrichs said Allen will be one of Central's top athletes, along with Whitney Demby, C.J. McTizic and Roy Wedge.
"Those are probably the best athletes we have," Henrichs said. "We'll probably learn some more about some others (during the season)."
Central coaches think Allen and McTizic will be its top sprinters, while Wedge will excel in long-distance events such as the two-mile run. "Roy should do well in that. He did well in cross-country," Henrichs said.
Demby is the team's top female performer and she competes in sprints, middle-distance runs and high jumping.
"She did well last year in high jumps, often taking first in meets," Henrichs said. "So she should have another good year, I think. She's got great ups."
With team expectations uncertain, Henrichs is only sure of one thing when it comes to where his team will stand by season's end.
"I think they'll know each other a lot better, and it'll be a lot more fun for them to watch each other and pull together a little more as a team," he said.
"Right now a lot of us are just learning the game, so to speak, with seventh- and eighth-graders coming out for the first or second time at the most. So they're just all excited and having fun, so that's a good thing, too."