Bobcats hope depth leads to better finishes

Marshalltown boys track and field coach Mark Chardoulias admitted that the departures from last year’s roster were going to be hard to replace.

There isn’t another Pedro Gomez or Austin Butcher in the shot put and discus rinks. There may not be sprinters like Tad Steffensen or Brandon Pettigrew and distance runners Zach Wells and Daniel Talbert also are gone.

But losing those talented athletes doesn’t mean the Bobcats won’t be a better team. And Chardoulias actually feels like the 2014 squad will be.

“We won’t have the experience we had last year and may not have the really talented athlete like we did last year, but we should be deeper and have a nice blend of experience and youth,” he said.

The only returning state qualifier from last year is senior Brady Arment, who has picked up right where he left off last year in the high jump. Arment cleared 6-foot-2 at the state meet last year but has already jumped 6-4 during the indoor season. He also leaped better than 18-10 in the long jump at last year’s district meet and will be counted on as a sprinter in 2014 as well.

Aaron Hauser and Sam Johnson are two of the four members returning from last year’s 4×800 relay team that ran at districts.

Johnson and Imad Amenzou will both be counted on in the distance races this season, while Hauser could shift his focus to the sprints along with Michael Schrempf, Jordan Banes, Seth Heinrichs and Marco Tapia. Other sprinters looking to make an impact include Kyle Laderhoff, Jordan Paone and John Espinoza.

Nathan Phillips, Anthony Fleck, Alex Mason and Konner Kacmarynski are other distance runners looking to help the Bobcats fill out a varsity lineup.

“We have a lot of interchangeable parts, and I think that will help us compete better,” Chardoulias said.

Gomez capped off his senior year with a fifth-place finish in the shot put last year. It will take quite a turnaround for the Bobcats to find a duplication of that.

Chardoulias said anyone who throws shot put or discus in 2014 will be young and inexperienced. Trevor Dolezal and Ryan Butcher could eventually emerge as starters in those spots, while Alfonso Martinez and Paden Himes also are competing for varsity spots.

“We are just really young at those two events,” said Chardoulias. “We are trying to put things together so we can be competitive.”

Chardoulias expects the Central Iowa Metropolitan League to once again be challenging. Right now, Dowling Catholic, Waukee, West Des Moines Valley and Ames appear to have the edge among the 18 schools.

“It’s always a tough league,” Chardoulias said. “It’s loaded once again.”

Practicing outside this season, like most, has been challenging during the early stages of the year due to cold temperatures and rain.

The Bobcats are scheduled to open their outdoor season tonight at Leonard Cole Field but Chardoulias was not confident the meet would take place as scheduled. Marshalltown also hosts a meet Tuesday and then will have a home last-chance Drake qualifier on April 17 before hosting a state-qualifier meet May 15.

“The weather has affected us,” said Chardoulias. “The long jumpers have only really done run throughs and the high jumpers are indoors.

“We have been practicing outside consistently for about a week and a half but are now trying to deal with some early-season ankle injuries.”