Northland High School girls track and field coach Tom Fast beams with pride when he talks about what his program has accomplished over the past five seasons.
He's also keenly aware of what the Vikings must do if they are to build on a run that saw them win City League championships from 2009-11 and finish as league runners-up each of the last two seasons.
"We got zero points in the (shot put and discus) last year, and that really hurt us against Eastmoor (Academy in the league meet)," Fast said. "I think we have every other event covered. We're trying to get some of the other sprinters to run an event like the 800 (meters), and if we can do better in the throws, that will determine if we can win the City."
Several key contributors return from the team that scored 104 points in the league meet to finish second behind Eastmoor (111), including senior Kennedy Dulaney and juniors Mariah Nevels and Ariel Skipper.
All three should be key sprinters, with Dulaney also being the top hurdler. Skipper's junior sister, Armani Skipper, also is competing.
Others looking to contribute are seniors Phoebe Mescher (shot put, discus) and Mackenzie Pahren (middle distance), junior Simone Young (middle distance, long jump), sophomores Sheba Beaufort (middle distance), Caitlin Dent (sprints) and Artajiah Jones (sprints) and freshmen Drake Kirkland (sprints) and Mica Newman (sprints).
Last year in the Division I regional meet, Ariel Skipper was 12th in the 100 (13.38 seconds). She also ran on the 400 relay that was 10th (50.12) and the 800 relay that placed 14th (1:50.35).
Dulaney ran on both relays, while Nevels competed on the 400 relay and added a seventh-place finish in the 200 (26.25).
The only state qualifier was 2013 graduate Jasmine Weatherspoon, who was fourth in the high jump (5 feet, 3 inches) at regional but did not clear a height in the state meet.
The boys team also should be at its strongest in the sprint events.
Senior Jhustus Cornley, who has signed to play football at Indiana State, is expected to lead the team.
"Eastmoor looks like they'll be really tough to beat in the City, but we're working hard to beat them," coach Marcos Segovia said. "Independence will be good again. Hopefully we can challenge for runner-up and first place."
Other key athletes should include seniors Ayo Adedipe (high jump, long jump, hurdles), Mohamed Dukuly (middle distance), Ibrahim Mansaray (sprints), Mohamed Mara (shot put, discus) and James Williams (middle distance, long jump), juniors Nateshawn Hargrove (sprints), Michael Kyle (shot put, discus), Darius Owens (distance), Sherman Watson (sprints) and Malik Williams (sprints) and sophomores Dominique Powers (sprints) and Justin Smith (hurdles).
Brookhaven teams battling low numbers
The Brookhaven boys and girls track and field teams are hoping to put together solid relays by the postseason in what will be their final season as a program.
The boys team will be coached by Shawn Harris, who was an assistant the last two years but is in charge this spring after Steve Ayers stepped down.
Harris is a 1993 Brook-haven graduate who competed for the Bearcats' 1992 regional runner-up team.
"Considering the circumstances, it's going pretty well," Harris said. "It's not the turnout we usually have, but we have decent numbers. We just want to do the best we can with what we have, have fun, compete and do it the Brookhaven way."
The top athletes are seniors George Howard (long jump), Paul Hughes (sprints), Devonte Lewis (sprints) and Keandre Powell (sprints) and juniors Edgar Hernandez (distance) and Matthew Lara (discus).
Hughes has signed to play football at Urbana.
The only returnee for the girls team is senior Rai'Vyn Hooker, who is expected to run the 100 and 200. Also competing are senior Breonna Sealey (hurdles, sprints) and sophomore Charvonna Allison (shot put, discus, middle distance).
Beechcroft squads prepping for season
Four girls who represented Beechcroft in the Division II regional meet in Dayton last season are back this spring.
The top returnee is senior Tivia Hylton, who is expected to lead the sprint corps.
She should be joined in sprinting events by juniors Jamerah Reaves and Ahmel Roberson and sophomore Dayana Banks.
"Our sprint team should be decent, provided they can be healthy," coach Mike Moncrief said.
"We took three relays to the finals of the regional last year and our goal is to get to state this year."
Also on the girls team are junior Wafaa Tali and sophomore Lavonna Harrison, who should compete in middle distance.
At regional, the 800 relay that included Roberson, Banks and Hylton made the final but then was disqualified. Reaves and Roberson joined 2013 graduates Amber Radcliff and Hailee Cannady on the 400 relay that took seventh (51.55). The 1,600 relay that included Hylton placed eighth (4:12.36), and Banks was 10th in the 200 (27.13).
The boys team has a new coach in Duane Gosa, who replaced Bruce Ward, and has about a dozen athletes out.
Seniors Landers Cox and Khalor Franklin are the top sprinters, with senior Robert Smoot expected to run the 400. Junior Chaquez Fair will compete in the shot put.
Cox ran on the 800 relay that took 10th (1:32.63) at regional last season.