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The Nelson County track and field teams will be in the rebuilding mode this season, as the girls and boys are reloading after a couple of record-setting events from last year.
“We are young, and only have a handful of seniors,” Nelson coach Dan Bradley said. “I think we will really feel the effect, for the first time, after splitting our numbers with Thomas Nelson. We have reloaded with a lot of lesser-experienced athletes, but the kids we do have are very coachable.”
Nelson County set two records in the girls 4x100 relay last year on two separate occasions, while sending five girls to the state Class 3A meet. The school will compete in Class 2A Region 2 this year, joining Bardstown and Thomas Nelson in moving.
“I would love to see us go back to state this year,” said senior Brianna Harman, who is the Cardinals’ top sprinter and has also taken up the shot put this year, taking first at a couple of meets. “We can’t be nervous out there, and we must give it our all. I think we can accomplish some great things, but we are really young.”
Nelson County has only two returning senior girls, Harman and discus standout Kaylee Hall, but still feel they can lead the squad overall. The Cardinals were wracked by graduation, including the departure of standout distance runner Daniella Godenzi, who now competes at Division I Stetson. Sisters Bree Hughes and Kelsey Hughes anchor the distance crew.
“Our girls numbers are a little down this year,” Bradley said. “We graduated a lot and with the split, our kids are younger this year than before and we are having to do a lot of teaching and they are having to do a lot of learning.”
The boys’ roster will feature the leadership of junior distance runner Will Ballard. The Cardinals will have to learn and grow up quickly on the field, and that is something Ballard says is very likely.
“I want us to improve as we move forward, and that is very possible,” he said. “We didn’t make it to state last year, but we did medal in conference play, and we have some good talent this season that can help us do that again.”
The Cardinals have an abundance of individuals participating, mainly juniors, but many of those are new to he sport.
Ballard specializes in long distance events, and expects some good results as the season unfolds.
“I would love to beat my PR (personal record) this season in the two-mile,” he said. “I know as a team we are young, but if we all do our best and listen to our coaches, we’ll be alright.”
Nick McGaughey has been solid for the Cardinals in the hurdle events, as well as the high jump.
Although the boys squad will be filled with a new youth movement, the coach says they have shown enthusiasm.
“They realize they are learning some new things,” he said. “We have a lot of ground to get covered by the time our region event rolls around. We definitely have our work cut our for us, but that’s why we have coaches.”
Nelson County, for the first time, will also be participating in the pole vault event, something that Bradley is very positive about.
“It’s quite the event, but we had the equipment last year,” he said. “We have a lot of girls and boys who are interested in the sport, and it can be intimidating. However, we are learning and we should have some really good vaulters by the end of the season.”