Banner County, strength in small numbers
     2015-03-26      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy Photo - Members of the Banner County Wildcat track team include, from left – Front Row: Abby Russell, Sierra Flores, Arielle Whelchel, Courtney Knisley, Emily Singleton and MaKenna Dahlgrin. Back row: Tallion McGowan, Micah Wicker, Bryce Olsen, Tyson Dahlgrin, Kadan Huber, Erika Geary, Garrett Grubbs and Brandon Blickensderfer. 
With a small squad of 14 members, the Banner County Wildcats plan to improve on last year’s performance in the Minuteman Activities Conference in Division D-2. Last year, the boys finished 4th in their conference and the girls took 7th place.

“We have a lot of inexperienced kids in addition to our returning starters,” said Coach Kari Gifford. “Our goal is to continue improving. Right now, we’re still evaluating how the newcomers will fit in to the season.”

Returners include Tyson Dahlgrin, who qualified for state last year in both 110 and 300 hurdles. Bryce Olsen, who wasn’t out last year, returns as a senior to compete in the throws division. Senior Kaden Huber returns for the high jump division, where he had some success last year.

For the girls, there are no returning seniors. Junior Abby Russell will compete in throws and will be joined a number of girls who are coming out for the first time.

Other newcomers on the girls’ squad who are expected to be competitive are freshman MaKenna Dahlgrin, who had some success in the throws in junior high. And freshman Courtney Knisley will compete in the distance events, after competing in cross country last fall.
Gifford said the team always looks forward to competing against Potter-Dix, a team that always has a big team and have a real competitive spirit.

“We see everyone in the conference off and on for the entire season,” Gifford said, “so everyone is good competition for us.”
The first meet of the season is on the road at Kimball, coming up on March 28. “That’s an important meet for us,” Gifford said. “It gives us an indication of where we’re starting and what we need to work on. We always look forward to that one.”

She added the meets, where they see a number of teams on the same day, are the measuring tool the use to measure their progress throughout the season. “During our daily practices, we’re focusing on getting better every day.”

Gifford has been coaching the track team at Banner County High School for the past five years. Her assistant coaches include Sonja Lind, Pricilla Bastian and Bill Gifford.

“So far, we have a great bunch of kids,” Gifford said. “They started out working hard and I think we’re ahead of where we were a year ago. Also, the weather has been cooperative, which makes a difference.”

Banner County Track Schedule

Saturday, March 28 at Kimball – TBA
Thursday, April 2 at Bayard C-D – 9 a.m.
Friday, April 10 Tri-State Invite at Chappel Creek Valley
Saturday, April 18 at Alliance Invite – 9 a.m.
Friday, April 24 George Calvert Invite at Morrill – TBA
Tuesday, April 28 Best of the West at Scottsbluff – TBA
Saturday, May 2 MAC track at Bayard – 9 a.m.
Friday, May 8 Cheyenne County Invite at Sidney – TBA
Wednesday, May 13 District track at Morrill – TBA
Friday – Saturday, May 22 – 23 State track at Omaha

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