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Braves reload for title run

Banks returns loads of talent from last season's district championship squads

Success.

The 2010 Banks High School track and field team had plenty of it last season, and if everything goes according to plan, the 2011 season should see as many individual and team accomplishments, if not more.

'We learned how to win [last year],' head coach Rob Frank said. 'Success breeds success.'

On both sides, the Braves will be looking to defend their Cowapa League district titles, a feat made easier by the large number of returnees for both squads.

'[Both] teams will be strong,' Frank said. 'The girls lost one district scoring athlete and the boys lost some power in three all-state competitors, but we have some new faces that may be able to help step in and take their places.'

On the girls side, the Lady Braves will be buoyed by the return of senior Jessica Markham and junior Bea Norgren, who placed in four different events at last year's Class 4A state meet in Eugene. Markham finished fifth in the 400 meters and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles, while Norgren finished seventh in the 100-meter dash and eighth in the 200 meters.

Returning with Markham and Norgren will be their teammates on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays - juniors Jennifer Hilger and Amanda Reaser, senior Felica Wilson and sophomore Cassy Turner. Both relay teams finished seventh at state and will look to improve on that mark this season.

In addition, sophomore Sara Reaser returns from her seventh-place finish in the 3,000 meters in Eugene. The Lady Braves also return a pair of state qualifiers in junior Krisha Willis and sophomore Ari Daskalakis.

Seniors Maggie McMillan, Ali Philippi and Chelsea Matthews, who had strong showings at last year's district meet, also return to give the Braves the depth and experience needed to repeat their district title chances and improve on last year's 13th-place finish in Eugene.

For the boys, who finished third at last year's state meet in addition to snagging a district title of their own, chances of 2011 success starts with the legs of seniors Linus Norgren and Colby Seyferth. Both were members of the Braves' state-champion 4x100 relay team last season, while Norgren captured a second state title in the 400 meters and Seyferth finished second. In addition, both Norgren and Seyferth placed in the 100 and 200 meters, respectively.

'It is a real rarity to have two 400 meter runners as gifted as Linus and Colby at one time,' Frank said. 'They can do so many events that at times it is difficult to decide which four events to enter them in. Clearly having the 1-2 placers in the state meet at 400 meters back is really big.'

The Braves also return a pair of state placers in the field events. Senior Matt Hidalgo finished fourth in the pole vault at state last season, while fellow senior T.J. Sandstrom finished seventh in the javelin.

'Matt is an incredible talent,' Frank said. 'He has the best pole vault mark in the state for indoor meets this year at 15 feet, 4 inches. Those three athletes along with Sandstrom give us an incredible nucleus for a team to score a lot of points at the state meet.'

In addition, junior Garrett Bosett, who captured a high finish in the district meet last season in the shot put, returns.

According to Frank, a number of senior boys, many newcomers and some talented freshmen will help the Braves to repeat last season's success.

'It is hard to win the district title,' Frank said. 'I don't like to predict, but ... the state qualifiers will continue to improve [and] we have a lot of new faces. We will have to wait and see how they develop.'