By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Several key returnees form a solid nucleus for Carl Junction, the defending Big 8 Conference champion in girls track and field.
Two of the returnees — seniors Britney Rose and Hope Joyner — were Class 3 state qualifiers a year ago who have committed to extending their careers into NCAA Division II. Rose, a hurdler, has signed with Missouri Southern, while Joyner has agreed to play volleyball at Pittsburg State.
“We have 22 girls out right now,” said assistant coach Sarah Wall, who coaches hurdlers and jumpers. “I think we had 12 to 14 girls when we won the conference last year, so it’s exciting. And we have two college-bound athletes, and that’s really exciting.”
Rose won the 300-meter hurdles at the Class 3, District 6 meet last year at Carl Junction and placed second in the sectional at Marshfield. She ran on the 4x400 relay team that placed eighth at the state meet.
Joyner was district champion in the 100 hurdles and placed second at Marshfield. She was second in the shot put at the district meet and competed in the triple jump.
Also returning for Carl Junction is senior Sydney Koch, who placed third in the 400 and fifth in the 100 at the district meet. She competed in the long jump and ran on the 4x400 relay that broke the school record along with Emily Keeter, Alex King and Rose.
“This group has the potential to be the best group we’ve had in a while,” said Carl Junction head coach Mark Robertson. “We’re fairly well-rounded. We’re still a little short on numbers, but what we have is going to be dominating.”
The Bulldogs’ experience is blended with youthful prospects such as sophomore Bradyn Wall, a high jumper who will compete in the triple jump along with Rose and freshman Katelyn Beebe.
Joining Rose and Joyner in the hurdles will be sophomore Kaden Brannin and freshmen Seve Kinzer and Makayla Henson.
“It’s actually a great group of hurdlers,” Sarah Wall said.
In the field events, the Bulldogs are led by senior pole vaulter Mary Goodson, who placed third at last year’s district meet.
Carl Junction’s distance runners are led by Keeter, a junior who was fifth in the 800 a year ago and ran on the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams.
Newcomers include two freshmen distance runners — JeLynn Tatum, who was fourth at the district cross country meet last fall, and Jordyn Capra, who was 16th.