MONROE CITY, Mo. -- Monroe City track and field enters the season small in numbers but strong in spirit.
There's been a lot of changes for Monroe City track with the graduations of several longtime mainstays from last year's team.
The girls team will look to seniors Isabella Stupavsky and Skylar Gosney for leadership, with several young teammates also helping fill that role.
"(Stupavsky and Gosney) have been part of this team for four years and they know the ropes and how it works," said Monroe City girls track coach Laura Mulvaney. "We also have some younger All-Staters like Audri Youngblood, Megan Hays and Avery Johnson. We have several who may be young, but have stepped into that role taking the leadership reins."
Another big change will be Kari Williams taking over as boys coach from David Kirby.
Williams is not exactly a newcomer to the program though, she's been part of the coaching staff for 16 years.
"In athletics across the board, our numbers are down for both boys and girls," Williams said. "We do the best that we can with what we have. We are blessed that we have those that chose to come out and participate and our focus will be to watch them grow throughout the season."
The girls team placed fourth overall at state last year, while the boys team was 10th overall.
Monroe City graduated Emmalee Williams, who placed first in the 800-meter run and was part of the 4x400-meter relay team that placed third.
The girls team also graduated Carly Youngblood, who placed second in pole vault and was also part of the 800-meter relay team.
Audri Youngblood figures to be a big piece for Monroe City, rather if its pole vault, hurdles, relay races or individual races.
"She's kind of taken the role more so of doing several running events," Mulvaney said. "She may still pole vault, yet if she thinks she's going to make more of a name in something else, she's going to jump into that. She's kind of one of those who can go into anything and be successful."
Mulvaney will use several cross country runners for long distance races, such as Meghan Hays, Ella Hays, Johnson and Stupavsky.
The biggest focus for running events on the girls side will be the 400 and 800-meter runs.
"We are still building on all of those key facets of the sprints," Mulvaney said. "I feel like though we may not come in first in every event, we can scrape together some points every now and again."
The Monroe City boys team qualified all four relay teams to state, but graduated Joshua Talton, Josiah Talton and Kabott Harlan from those teams.
Waylon DeGrave competed on two of those teams, but is recovering from an injury.
"Waylon has returned to our team, but he is undergoing therapy," Williams said. "So that is a day-by-day to see where he's going to be at."
Cameron Jones figures to be a big part of Monroe City's plans this season in the sprints, as well as Gage Woolen.
For the longer runs, senior Jackson Wheeler will lead the way after a successful cross country season. A couple of his freshmen teammates will join him -- Tanner Lorensen and Austin Richardson.
"Since we are a young program looking to fill those gaps, we will give everybody a chance to see where they are going to fit best," Williams said. "Really, we are going to be focused on individual participation this year and growth."
Lorenzo Karr will handle hurdles for the boys team, with the coaching staff unsure if Woolen will return to the event.
"Gage did do hurdles, but he is coming off a knee surgery," Williams said. "So I'm not sure how much hurdling he will do this year. It depends on how his knee is feeling. He's running about 75% at practices and with our numbers so small, we want to protect what we have. If that's something he could potentially get injured in, then we'll find some other place for him."
Youngblood and Gracee Foss will be the main hurdlers on the girls side, but there's a possibility some younger girls could step in.
"That's one positive thing about this team," Mulvaney said. "They are willing to try anything, not only to benefit the team, but also to benefit them as growth as an athlete. I think that's really nice to see as a coach."
That will carry over to the jumping events, which are unsettled for both teams coming into the season.
In the throwing events for the girls side, Mulvaney will look to Gosney, Timia Reinberg and Sam Hathaway.
"We are pretty strong this year," Mulvaney said. "We have our senior, Skylar Gosney, she's very familiar with the scene. We also have a freshman coming in, Timia, who set the school record in middle school. I feel like she's going to make a name for herself really quick. We also have Sam Hathaway, who has been working extremely hard lifting in the weight room and I feel like she is right up there, too."
Junior Josh Walkup will be the most experienced thrower on the boys side with the graduation of Joshua Talton.
"(Walkup) is improved," Williams said. "He comes in and works hard every day. He's one of our leaders. We have four or five new guys who want to attempt throwing. He's out there kind of showing them the way, along with the help from Coach Baker."
March 23 -- Monroe City Open
March 27 -- at South Shelby Open
March 30 -- Monroe City Invite
April 3 -- at Macon Open
April 4 -- at Clark County Invite
April 6 -- at Palmyra Open
April 10 -- at South Shelby Invite
April 13 -- at Westran
April 18 -- Dennis Hancock Invitational
April 21 -- at Cunningham Invitational
April 25 -- at Gerald Mansfield Invitational
May 1 -- Clarence Cannon Conference Meet
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