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Young athletes replenish Arlington track and field
ARLINGTON — Arlington track and field lost some big guns last year.
With the graduation of state champion Kjirsten Jensen and multiple-event finalist Bryan Mack among a strong senior class last spring, Arlington will definitely be flying under the radar in the early season.
“We graduated 24 seniors last year, which were all big-time contributors,” said Arlington coach Judd Hunter.
But while there are only four athletes back from last year’s state roster, more than one coach touted the talent of young Arlington athletes.
The team is led by captains Sherman Pruitt, Erin Taylor and Amanda Wregglesworth, all of whom made it to the district championship meet in Shoreline last year in at least one event. Wregglesworth, competed at state in the 300 hurdles, where she took 15th. Hunter credited all three with excellent leadership and a good work ethic.
All three will attempt to lead Arlington back to the state meet this year as the Eagles move back up to 4A competition.
Taylor is a multi-talent, competing in three events at last year’s district finals, including the 100-meter dash, the triple jump and the 4x100 relay. Meanwhile Pruitt, a linebacker on Hunter’s defense during the football season, is a thrower, specializing in the shot put and discus, but also demonstrating surprising speed during league meets last spring.
The trio of seniors lead a team that includes two more state veterans in junior Ginny Wilson, a high jumper, and senior Sean Gregory, a miler at last year’s meet.
“He’s been doing lots of running, some indoor races at the UW,” said cross country coach and track assistant Mike Shierk. “He’s one of the best incoming distance runners we’ve ever had.”
Shierk is hoping for a breakout season from a number of his cross country athletes this track season. Several of his athletes are still awaiting the payoff from a hard-working offseason last summer, including juniors James Clark, Lucas Chase and Aaron Newsom. Some girls poised to go the distance running long-distance include juniors Safa Pinkens and Yuki Dorff and sophomores Bryna Prause and Kristin Wreggelsworth.
Others returning in good shape include sophomore Melissa Webb, a long jumper and triple jumper who was just a couple of places out of a state trip in her first season, sophomore hurdler and high jumper Kylene Swegle and junior Dylan Lindberg, who went far into the season as a pole vaulter. Sophomore Blake Peterson should be competitive as a sprinter this season.
But perhaps one of the most tantilizing possibilities for Arlington track and field is their incoming freshman class. Hunter named three freshmen who could have an impact on the team right away. The list is headlined by Max Bryson, who broke a decades-old high jump record at Post Middle School last spring and went to the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Championships where he placed fourth while fighting a back injury.
“He just naturally has good form,” said Shierk.
The other two names should be recognizable to anyone who follows Arlington sports. Freshman Blake McPherson, who backed up Jake Parduhn and Andy Smith at quarterback during the football season and earned a spot on the varsity wrestling roster, will take up the javelin for the Eagles this spring. Schmuck came off the bench this winter for the girls basketball team that placed second in Wesco North. Hunter expects her to impress in the hurdles.
Youth defines this Arlington track team, Hunter said.
“We have quite a few more multi-event athletes this year,” he added. “It should be an interesting season with so many young athletes. I look forward to it.”