Kyler Steinkamp would have qualified for State last year had he high jumped in any other Regional. Instead, he was behind four competitors, all of whom placed at the state track and field meet.
Steinkamp figures to be a leading athlete for Augusta's track team, which opens its season today with the Early Bird meet at home with Andover and Circle.
Today will be one of the few chances coach Steve Reichardt gets to see all his kids, including young athletes, in action after weather has spoiled a lot of practice time.
"They're a fun group. They showed up very strongly on spring break,. They want to be here," Reichardt said, "but we've got a lot of unknowns...and we're very young, especially on the girls' side. But we have kids who are going to get after it."
The Orioles lost a plethora of seniors who handled most of the key roles for the boys team last year. Steinkamp figures to be one of the mainstays. He'll run the 200-meter dash along with the high jump.
Senior Reese Willis will be a crucial runner for the Orioles in the sprints and likely some relay races, as well. Trae Goken, who will be competing in track and playing baseball this spring, also should be a key runner and possibly handle a field event or two.
Tyler Hammond really came on strong as a hurdles racer as a freshman last year. Reichardt is counting on him to be competitive in those races.
For the girls, there are no seniors on the team. But though young, there are some Orioles who could emerge as tough competitors this season. Junior Bailey Reichardt has improved every year in the sprints. Hannah Albright, though only a sophomore, has plenty of experience both during and outside the school season. She will handle some hurdles races and possibly some field events. Reichardt also said there are some freshman girls who could step up and take over the shorter sprint races.
'It's going to take some patience and some time," Reichardt said about getting the younger girls into competition.
As with just about any sport, Reichardt wants to keep the track team focused every day to do the little things to improve. Part of that is setting mini-goals, and part of that is attitude.
"Keep everything positive," Reichardt said about his approach with the younger team. "Keep everything positive. 'How are you doing?' and 'Did you improve? Are you getting better?' It's not 'I got sixth, or eighth or didn't place.' ... "That's the main thing we really look is if your personal best is getting better."