The Madison girls' track team will be looking to improve on a second-place finish at the 2012 State Track Meet.
Madison will have a chance to do just that as there are 36 freshmen through seniors out for this year's team, along with nine middle school tracksters.
Key returners for coach Kevin DeCurtins include seniors Lexi Finck and Jessica Nieses. Finck will be running the 200 and 400 and anchoring the sprint relay, according to DeCurtins.
"She is our school record holder in the 400-meter dash and she also has top-10 performances in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, 1600-meter and medley relay," DeCurtins said.
Nieses runs the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles.
"She is looking to add the 400-meter to her list of events this year," DeCurtins said.
Key juniors returning for the Bulldogs are Coley Stoller, Ashley Schwebach, Brooklynn Hodges and Michaela Duff. Stoller is the Madison record holder in the triple jump and a top-10 performer in the long jump, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay and medley relay.
Schwebach and Hodges are top-10 performers in the pole vault. Duff is a top-10 performer in the 800-meter relay and medley relay.
Emily Hawkes, Madison Nipe and Abby Christiansen are key sophomores returning for DeCurtins. Hawkes is a top-10 performer in the 800-meter run, 1600-meter run, 3200-meter run, 3200-meter relay and medley relay.
Nipe is a top-10 performer in the 800-meter run, 400-meter relay, 1600-meter relay, 3200-meter relay and medley relay.
Christiansen is a top-10 performer in the high jump.
Eighth-grader Hailey Streff is another key returner. She is a top-10 performer in the 1600-meter, 3200-meter and 3200-relay.
"Our strongest running events will be the 400-, 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter runs," DeCurtins said. "Our strongest relays will be the 400-, 800- and 3200-meter relays along with the medley relay."
The Bulldogs should be strong in the triple jump, long jump, high jump and pole vault.
"We are anxious to see how our hurdlers, throwers and short sprints come along as the season progresses," DeCurtins said.
DeCurtins' main concerns include getting in enough work to get in progressively better shape as the season goes along, and to avoid injuries.
"We want to be ready for the big push in May with conference, region and go into the state meet with fresh legs," he said. "We want to evaluate our newcomers and find a spot for them to help in our team efforts."
West Central and Harrisburg will be the teams to beat in the Big 8 Conference meet.
Madison lost three tracksters due to graduation: Laura Blom, Danielle Bloom and Ashley Currey.
Boys looking for repeat
Madison won the boys' state title a year ago, and the team is looking for a repeat performance with 37 freshmen through seniors and two middle school boys vying for a spot this year.
Key seniors returning in 2013 include Brandon Schrepel, Brendon Waldner, Trevor Holbrook, Tyler Lentsch and Luke Zingmark.
Schrepel is a top-10 performer in the triple jump. Waldner is a top-10 performer in the 300-meter hurdles. Holbrook is a state placer in the pole vault.
Lentsch and Zingmark were both on the winning 3200-meter relay team.
Top returning juniors out for track include Tayler Anderson, Rush Milne, Jacob Giles and Tyler Currey.
Anderson and Milne are top-10 performers in both the 400-meter and 800-meter relays. They were both on the winning 800-meter relay team that also was awarded the Gold Medal at last year's State Track Meet.
Giles was a member of the winning 3200-meter relay from a year ago.
Currey is a state placer in the discus.
Freshman Hunter Streff is a key returner for the Bulldogs. He was on the winning 3200-meter relay team and a state placer in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs.
"Our distance crew is coming off a state championship in cross country last fall, and we expect them to be strong again this spring in the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter runs," DeCurtins said. "Even though we lost our top two sprinters from last season, we do return Anderson and Milne, who are runners on our school-record 400- and 800-meter relays. Waldner was the third leg of our second-place 400-meter relay team last year, and we have a list of prospects looking to get a spot on those sprint relays this year."
Field events that should be solid for the Bulldogs include triple jump, long jump, pole vault and discus.
Once again, DeCurtins' main concern is to avoid injuries and be ready with fresh legs for the conference, region and state meets in May.
"The boys' division in the Big 8 Conference is going to be very competitive. I wouldn't rule out anyone at this time," DeCurtins said.
Madison lost two seniors who placed at the state meet last year: Chris Nielsen and D'Artist Williams.
Assisting DeCurtins this year are Maxine Unterbrunner, Nancy Falor, Tom Osterberg, Robert Cordts and Adam Ericsson.
Middle school coaches include Maridee Dossett, Mike Materese, Lindsey Dietterle and (unofficially) Cotton Koch.