GCMS boys track and field starts season with deep roster

GIBSON CITY -- One of the advantages that Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School's boys track and field team may have this season may be its depth.
The Falcons enter the season with 28 guys on the roster.
"We have more guys here than we've had in a while," GCMS head coach Mark Ward said. "We've got a good number of guys in each area. We've got a good distance crew. We've got mid-distance (runners) and sprinters. We've got a big throwing crew. We're pretty excited."
Caleb Bleich was one of three GCMS athletes to reach the IHSA Class 1A state meet last year -- and the only one of them returning this year.
The junior finished the state meet with a ninth-place medal in the long jump and placed 12th in the triple jump.
"He's going to be working on his long jump, triple jump and high jump," Ward said. "We haven't decided yet what his fourth event is going to be, if he's even going to have one."
Tyler Ricks returns after finishing third in the mile run at the iHSA Class 1A Paxton Sectional last year.
"He's been very close to state qualifying," Ward said. "He's a very strong runner. One of his goals is to maybe get the two-mile school record. He's strong enough to be able to do it. We're looking to (him and Bleich) as leaders.
"We don't have the standout guys other than that. We've got to put them in the right places to get the best out of them. We're looking forward to playing the chess game as we go on and get everybody in the right place."
Of the Falcons' 28 athletes, about a dozen of them are freshmen, according to Ward.
"We've got quite a few freshmen," Ward said. "We're still looking to figure out where we're going to put them and what they're going to run, but I've got a feeling that there are going to be some diamonds in the rough there. Once we figure out exactly where we want them to go, they're going to give us a lot of points.
"We've got a couple of other kids going out that we haven't had out for a while, who are going to give us some points in the middle distance and hurdles and things of that nature. I'm looking forward to this season because we've got our guys who have competed for us -- our letterwinners who have gotten us points -- but then we have this very large crew of freshmen who are also fairly athletic. They're going to help promote the team and do some good stuff for us. We've got some good outlooks, so we'll see if we can put it together." 
After an indoor schedule that includes a meet at Illinois Wesleyan on Thursday, March 15, GCMS's outdoor season will begin with the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Invite at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 29, and a triangular meet at home against Iroquois West and Clifton Central at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 2.
"With so many different athletes, we'll let them pick what they want to do at the small meets," Ward said. "As we start to see them develop, we'll be able to start to kind of funnel them to where they need to go and keep them excited as they go through and get some success. As long as they're excited and having success, that's going to give the rest of the team a little bit of excitement and more success. 
"As coaches, we all know that success breeds success, so the more we can get the guys in the right places at the right time, the better off we're going to be. We're not looking forward to certain meets. We're looking forward to racing. We're looking forward to seeing how the guys are going to advance every time that we go out there."
GCMS will also host Falcon Invite at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 6.
"We're looking to see if we can try to get the trophy back," Ward said. "We haven't won that trophy in a couple of years, so that's one of my goals -- to get that back home to us."
The Heart of Illinois Conference Meet will take place Eureka on Tuesday, May 1. 
"We want to compete against Eureka and the other big schools. El Paso-Gridley does a really wonderful job with all of their kids," Ward said. "We're looking to try to get back up into that top three, or maybe even No. 1, in the conference. With our numbers, if we can get guys in the right place, we can probably go for it and get that conference championship."
The Falcons will host their IHSA sectional meet on Thursday, May 17.
"The last goal is just making sure that we get people down to state," Ward said. "It's not about meets -- it's just about getting our goals achieved."


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