WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla High School’s track and field program has enjoyed the sweet taste of success on numerous occasions since 2000.
The boys have won nine league titles, five district crowns, and enter 2013 as defending district champions. The program has a league mark of 140-5 during that stretch in dual-meet competition.
Wa-Hi’s girls have been league runner-up in four of the past six seasons.
Coach Eric Hisaw has experienced much of what has happened up close. The upcoming season will be Hisaw’s 16th on the track and field coaching staff and his third as head coach of both the boys and girls programs.
Hisaw and Company enter 2013 in “unchartered territory.”
Some 190 kids have turned out for track and field.
In year’s past, turnout numbers have ranged between 150 and 165, with 175 serving as the maximum standard, Hisaw said.
“It’s cool, it really is,” Hisaw said. “It’s a great problem to have. I couldn’t be more pleased. We have standouts and depth on both sides. It could be a special spring.”
The list of senior boys on this year’s roster include throwers Logan Reardon (discus, shot put, javelin), Zach Gilvey (javelin), Jeremy Larson (shot put, discus), Quinn Piver (shot put, discus), and Nick Miner (discus, javelin).
Reardon and Larson can “throw a long way, and are good technicians,” Hisaw said. “Quinn is solid and has a huge frame (6 feet, 7 inches tall).”
Peter Sirmon and Garrett Kenny will compete in the pole vault, Hisaw said.
“Peter had a great indoor season,” Hisaw said of Sirmon, a regional qualifier in the long jump in 2012. “He wants to get to 15 feet. He loves the vault. He’s passionate about it. He’s got all kinds of talent. Garrett will get every chance to go to 13-6 or 14 feet.”
Alex Pickel, Zach Telfer, and Brian Seekamp have all elevated to six feet or better in the high jump, Hisaw said. Pickel and Telfer were regional qualifiers. Telfer will also run the 800 and the mile, Hisaw said.
Rounding out the senior group are Jonah Hoe, 2012 state qualifier in the long jump, Sean Newcomb, last fall’s Mid-Columbia Conference cross country runner of the year, Paul Gilmore (mile and two mile), Robbie Miller (100, 200, 400), and Sam Block (triple jump).
“Jonah pays attention to details,” Hisaw said. “He wants to end (his high school career) on a positive note.”
Ben Wolpert (one mile, 800, 1600, 3200, leg on 4x400 relay), Stuart Gillen (100 and 200 league leader last year, leg on 4x100, possibly a leg on 4x400), Rueben Avalos (sprinter, long jump, 200, 400), Darnell Handcox (sprinter, triple jump, 100, 200), Robbie Thonney (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump), and Forrest Swant (300 hurdles) highlight this year’s group of juniors.
“Ben’s a stud and is fearless,” Hisaw said. “He fits in with our seniors. Stuart has all the attributes you want. I expect (Thonney) to take off in the (110 hurdles) this year. He’ll surprise a lot of folks. Forrest has a chance to make a jump in his performances.”
Sophomores that could provide punch of their own are Sam Callan (hurdler), Ethan Gardner (100, 200, 400), and Roark Nelson (pole vault).
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see Sam finish strong in the last half of the season,” Hisaw said. “Ethan has natural ability and is showing a lot of promise. Roark has a great feel for the (pole vault).”
On the girls side, seniors Dominique Cox (200, 400), Maggie Callan (200, 400), and Ashley Cornia (triple jump), who have qualified for state in the 4x400 the last three years, are back for a final go in that event and more.
“It’s cool to have them back because they’re special,” Hisaw said. “They spen the winter training for these next 12 weeks.”
Senior Rachel Nelson, who has committed to Montana State, will participate in the 800, 1600, 3200, and in the 4x400 relay. Hisaw has “big expectations” for her.
The best of the rest among the senior corp are Hannah Burns, one of the top shot putters in the league and region last year, according to Hisaw, Lauren Wardwell (shot put, discus), Hallie Adkins (triple jump), and Brittany Gibbar (100, 200, 400, relays).
The junior class features Hannah Hampson, Catherine Feistner, Lea Davidson, Hannah Moeller (100, 200, 400, relays), Katarina Tonhdavong, a state qualifier in the discus, Jessie Shives (discus, javelin), Marie Hallowell (discus, javelin), Arianna Parker (discus, javelin), and Kassidy Willard (400, 800). Hampson, Feistner, and Davidson were regional qualifiers in either the mile or 3200 last year, and have also competed in cross country.
Four sophomores could also play a key role on this year’s team, Hisaw said. They are Maddie Sirmon (high jump, long jump), a regional qualifier in the javelin a year ago, Courtney Cox (800, 1600, 3200, leg on 4x400), a 2012 state cross country qualifier, Ally Gibbar (sprints, relays), and Miranda Doyle (triple jump).
As far as the Mid-Columbia Conference is concerned, Hisaw expects his teams to be challenged by Richland, Hanford, and Kamiakin. He also believes Southridge could be a factor in the boys mix.
Wa-Hi opens its season Saturday with a home meet at Martin Field. Opposition for the 10 a.m. event will be provided by Chiawana, Pasco, and Moses Lake.
“It will be a good way for our kids to get out of the gate,” Hisaw said. “It’s going to be exciting.”