Sports

Freshmen-laden Knights hit track

Bremerton’s Keefer Kaselen waits for a handoff from teammate Jarell Flora during practice Tuesday. Both Kaselen and Flora could earn spots on the 4X100-meter relay team, joining Chris Fleming, who helped the 2008 100 relay to a fifth-place finish at the Class 3A state track and field championships. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Bremerton’s Keefer Kaselen waits for a handoff from teammate Jarell Flora during practice Tuesday. Both Kaselen and Flora could earn spots on the 4X100-meter relay team, joining Chris Fleming, who helped the 2008 100 relay to a fifth-place finish at the Class 3A state track and field championships.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

Coach Lloyd Pugh’s plate is spilling over — minus the food.

Bremerton’s track and field coach not only lost a pair of the state’s fastest feet in now-graduated Alex Griffin, who finished third in the 100-meter dash at the 2008 Class 3A state championships while also anchoring the 4X100 relay team to a fifth-place finish, but he has just one assistant coach, Daniel McInnis, on a 2009 team comprised of more than 50 percent freshmen.

Hopefully he’s hungry.

“We’re very young overall,” Pugh said Tuesday. “We have a whole lot of freshmen.”

When asked exactly how young the team is, Pugh said 14 of the team’s 20 girls are freshmen, including just one senior. And of the entire 58-member team, Pugh estimated more than 50 percent are freshmen.

The freshmen-heaviness, Pugh said, coupled with the season being in its infancy, has made it hard to gauge exactly how good — or not so good — the team is.

“We’ll get a much better idea this weekend,” Pugh said, referring to tomorrow’s Kitsap County Classic at South Kitsap High School. “We’re playing it by ear everyday.”

Despite the loss of Griffin and other 2008 heavyweights such as Jamaree Wells and Jamiere Abney, both of whom were members of the 100 relay team, Pugh returns a few key athletes.

Among the top returnees on the boys side is sophomore Kyle Kennedy, who at the 2008 state championships finished ninth in the javelin with a 175-foot-7-inch throw. And while only a sophomore, Pugh has high expectations for Kennedy, who also plays on the BHS football team.

“Just because he is a sophomore doesn’t mean we can’t expect anything out of him,” Pugh said.

Senior Chris Fleming, the lone member of last year’s 100 relay team to return, figures to make a large impact as well. In fact, Fleming is the only shoe-in to race the 100 relay this season.

“From there, I really don’t know,” Pugh said. “It’s wide open.”

But Pugh pointed to junior Jarell Flora, a BHS basketball player who is on the track team for the first time, as a possible 100 relay candidate.

“He’s looking good and could fit into the relay team,” Pugh said.

Pugh also noted the progress of senior Isaac Anderson, who last year competed in nearly every event, including the 100- and 400-meter dash, 110 hurdles, shot put, discus, javelin, pole vault and high jump, among others.

“He’s looking really good right now,” Pugh said, noting Anderson’s potential in the pole vault.

Seniors David Fry (1,600 and 3,200) and Gabriel Kirkland (shot put) are making progress as well, Pugh said, and could contend for postseason berths.

Stephanie Himmelsbach, a senior, is the top returnee on a ot what girls team absent Jacki Hill, who received a track and field and academic scholarship to Washington State University prior to graduating. Hill took third in the 400 at last year’s state championships, clocking a time of 57.40 seconds.

But Pugh said Himmelsbach, whose strengths are the 110 and 300 hurdles, is stronger than she was last season and has added the javelin to her repertoire of events.

“That’s a new thing for her,” Pugh said. “She’ll be our best (athlete) in the javelin.”

After Himmelsbach, however, Pugh said he isn’t sure who — if anybody — will emerge for the girls. The entire team was scheduled to run the 400 during practice this week, giving Pugh an opportunity to evaluate the team top to bottom.

“We’ll find out what they’re made of,” he said. “We’ll find out where we are, especially with the younger team members.”

There’s no denying the team’s youth, but Pugh said that could work to the team’s advantage in the long run. With four full seasons to develop the now-freshmen, the Knights could be a potent team down the road as Pugh builds a solid nucleus, especially on the girls side.

“We have to keep them on board and help them get better and better each year,” Pugh said. “We are focusing on what we can do, not what other people do.”

The Kitsap County Classic begins at 10 a.m.

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