With only one key senior a year ago in sprinter Carly Culbertson, the Ready High School girls track and field team came up just short of advancing to the Division II regional meet in several events and didn't have any state qualifiers.
The depth the Silver Knights have developed in distance and hurdles events since then has created a brighter outlook for this season.
Ready opened by placing sixth (59) in the 11-team Hamilton Township Booster Invitational on April 1 behind champion Watterson and finished third (64) in the 10-team Red Raider Relays on April 5 at London behind Springfield Northeastern (82) and Bexley (74). Ready also lost to Bloom-Carroll 79-44 on April 8.
"We lost Carly Culbertson, but we've got a good distance corps," coach Dean Tower said. "We're expecting to be formidable this year."
The top returnee is senior Allie Schroeder, who was fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (16.91 seconds) and fifth in the 300 hurdles (49.42) in the district 1 meet a year ago.
Also back after placing at district a year ago are junior Courtney Bair, who was sixth in the 1,600 (5:42.47), and sophomore Kathleen Colvin, who was sixth in the 3,200 (12:42.02). Schroeder joined Culbertson as well as two other returnees, senior Jordan Bair and sophomore Emily Genders, on the 1,600 relay that was seventh (4:28.84) at district.
The 3,200 relay of Genders, Courtney Bair, Jordan Bair and senior returnee Maddy Bowen was fifth (10:31.34) at district.
Senior Holland Jones (sprints, long jump), junior Ashlyn Szabo (long jump) and junior Alanta Slone (shot put, discus) are other key returnees.
Also looking to contribute are seniors Mackenzie Atchison (shot put, discus) and Brianne Schell (distance), junior Josephine Halko (sprints, middle distance) and freshmen Gabrielle Bowman (sprints) and Katie Perry (middle distance, distance).
A year ago, Culbertson was 13th in the 200 (27.12) and 14th in the 100 (13.02) at regional as the Knights' only representative.
Boys track team athletic but small
The boys track team has just nine competitors, but two -- seniors Brady Taylor and Kelly Culbertson -- have been standouts in other sports.
In addition, junior Codi Platter was 10th at regional in the 1,600 (4:50.2) a year ago.
Taylor, who has signed to play football at Ohio State, is competing in the shot put and discus. Culbertson was a standout for both the football and basketball teams and is expected to run in sprint events and compete in the long jump.
"(Taylor) has never done (track) before so it's a new experience, but he's so athletic and strong," Tower said.
Ready tied the Hamilton Township B team for ninth (15) behind the champion and host Rangers (146) in the 12-team Hamilton Township Booster Invitational. Then in the 12-team Red Raider Relays, the Knights were eighth (27) behind champion Bexley (105).
Ready also lost to Bloom-Carroll 82-40.
Also contributing are senior Daniel Perry (middle distance), juniors Steve Landy (distance) and Mark Vatter (distance) and sophomore Henry Tokar (sprints).
The Knights' biggest loss was 2013 graduate Taron Slone, who was third in the 200 (22.34) and sixth in the 100 (11.2) at state last year. He was a four-time state qualifier in the 100.
Daniel Perry and Jonas Wahl also were lost to graduation. Perry was third in the 800 (2:00.72) and Wahl took second in the high jump (6 feet) at district.
Boys tennis team battling inexperience
Although the boys tennis team has six seniors and three others who gained varsity experience a year ago, it is fielding a new lineup.
All seven of the Knights' competitors in a Division II sectional a year ago were lost to graduation, including singles players Nick Berner, Scott Knapke and Austin Vrancken.
"We're a young team even though we have a lot of seniors," coach Jen Donaldson said. "We want to make sure that we work on what we didn't do well for our next match. We want to see improvement match to match."
Ready lost by 5-0 scores to Watkins Memorial (March 31), CCL-foe St. Charles (April 1), Westland (April 2) and CCL-foe Watterson (April 8) before falling to Jonathan Alder 4-1 on April 9.
Junior Drew Dawson and sophomores Sean Atchison and Zach Baum are returning players, although they weren't regulars a year ago.
Seniors Graham Green, Andy Rinehart and Chris Wiser and junior James Ley all are seeing action in singles.
Seniors Austin Carnes, Michael Osborn and Harrison Ringel, junior Dan Stewart and sophomore Andres Walliser-Wejebe are playing doubles.