MASON CITY — Before the Mason City girls track and field team has even competed in an outdoor meet this season, coach Jim Lee has already said there’s a problem. It’s a problem, though, that you’ll never hear him or anyone around the team complain about.
“We had a big freshman class last year with a lot of talented kids and a lot are coming back this year,” Lee said. “We have a really nice bunch of core kids throughout the lineup with 79 kids, and it’s a nice problem to have.”
Over the past few seasons, Mason City has made a habit of bringing a load of kids down to the state meet in May. That’s the plan again this year as nine girls with state-meet experience return to a Mohawk team looking for big things.
This year’s team is deep all over the place, starting in a place the Mohawks haven’t had a ton of depth in the past — field events.
Junior Piper Watson and sophomore Megan Meyer lead things off in the high jump as each return as state qualifiers from a year ago. Watson just missed out on a medal as one miss too many landed her in 10th place in Class 4A while Meyer placed 24th. Both girls cleared 5-foot-2 last season, and Lee said if they can continue to reach near or better than those heights, that’s a couple of guaranteed scorers every time out.
Senior Katrina Cornick, who placed in the shot put as a sophomore, will anchor the throws and sophomore Odeleline Daugherty is an up-and-comer in the long jump after a solid freshman campaign.
The team-wide depth also means the Mohawks are set in relay events, especially the sprints.
Erika Mariner and Meyer return from the state-qualifying sprint medley relay, Daugherty and Mariner ran legs on the 4x200, Daugherty and Peytan Runge were members of the 4x100, and the entire distance medley team, which placed 19th, returns with Runge, Meyer, Heather Nelson and Emma Davison.
The Mohawks also have a handful of newcomers, including another deep freshman class, which only helps round out what Mason City is building.
“We’ve been on a nice little roll lately and this is the deepest team I’ve ever had,” Lee said. “They’re starting to believe now and see that we’re pretty fast. Some fast kids didn’t even know it until they got on the track.”
Mason City opens the outdoor portion of its schedule Tuesday at Waverly-Shell Rock.
Lee admitted it will take some time for this team to gel, and for some to return from injury including Cornick, but he’s excited about the potential the Mohawks have.
“I’m not sure the girls understand that yet,” Lee said. “We just tell them to believe in themselves, the coaching staff and each other and they have a chance to be even better than last year.”