With numbers down a bit from previous years, the Vale track and field team is busy preparing for their first meet.


“We have about 30 out this year,” said Viking head coach Bob Phillips. “Our strength this year is our senior leadership on this team.”


The Viking girls enter the season as the defending state 3A champions. However, a large graduating class last year has depleted the team.


“We lost quite a few on the girls’ side of the team,” Phillips said. “I am really happy as we have quite a spirited group of freshman girls that came out this year.”


An area of concern for Phillips in past years has been the boys’ program. This year, Phillips is hopeful the boys make a showing at the district meet to be held in Umatilla.


“In the field events, we are looking for Aidan Schlupe to be hitting the 6-foot mark on the high jump,” Phillips said. “For the girls, Dallie (Johnson) should continually be up there in the long and triple jump.”


Distance events will see Brooke Kaanen battle it out against Nyssa’s Delia Deleon as they have in past years in the 3,200-meter race. Phillips is also looking for Jake DeLong to place in the state meet in the pole vault competition.


“In the sprints, we have some young blood that are going to impress quite a few people,” Phillips added. “The thing I like this year is we have a real coachable team, kids that are willing to listen and learn. We have kids that will improve throughout the season and hopefully peak at the right time.”


The Viks open their season March 18 at the Diane Thurmond Invitational in Harper. Field events start at 1 p.m.