Stephenville High School boys track coach Kreg Kimple finds himself in a “transition” mode in more than one way.
Kimple previously announced that he will be retiring from coaching at the end of the current school year.
The Yellow Jackets had seven regional qualifiers last spring, but seniors Krece Nowak and Zane Walker along with junior Caden Cowan are the only two athletes from that group back this year. One of them was 2018 SHS graduate Blake Aragon, the 2017 state champion in the high jump and qualified a second time for the state meet as a senior.
“It’s kind of a transition group,” Kimple said going into Thursday’s meet in Granbury at the Johnny Perkins Relays. “We’re trying to fit pieces together. We have three meets left, and hopefully we will figure some things out.”
Nowak competed in three regional events — long jump, triple jump and 800-meter relay — as a junior. This year he is aiming for a fourth consecutive trip to the regional meet. He sacrificed for the team when he scratched from the 100-meter dash in order to fill a spot on that relay team that opened up because of an injury.
Nowak placed seventh in the region in the long jump (21-7.5) and 11th in the triple jump (41-4.75). He ran the lead leg on the 800 relay team, which placed eighth (1:32.22).
“He’s a good one to have back,” Kimple said.
Nowak is on the mend from a foot injury that forced him to sit out the latter part of the basketball season.
“He’s not quite 100 percent,” Kimple noted. “He’s getting back into shape, making progress."
Zane Walker is only a junior, but is already a two-time regional qualifier in the discus. A year ago he placed 11th in the regional meet with a throw of 131 feet, 7 inches. He also is returning from an injury (collarbone), and could return by the time the district meet rolls around, April 3-4 in Mineral Wells.
Cowan had a pole vault of 12 feet in the regional meet, good for ninth place. Another pole vaulter, freshman Ben Kimbro, has shown positive signs, clearing 13 feet, Kimple said.
Kimple said he is expecting good things from senior Christian Brown, a two-time state qualifier in cross country, who gives the Jackets hope in both the 1,600-meters and 3,200 meters.
A group of sophomores, including Gavin Rountree, Kason Phillips, Carson McKinney and Kyle Styron have shown good signs of advancing out of district as well, Kimple said, adding, “As long as they work hard — and they will. They’ve got to get faster and stronger.”
The Yellow Jackets and the Honeybees will have next week off from track competition for spring break. Their schedule will resume on March 21 in Glen Rose for the Tiger Relays.