When discussing their recent verbal commitments to play football at the University of Nebraska, Blue Springs junior twins Carlos and Khalil Davis told The Examiner that now they can concentrate on the track and field season, something they’re excited about as one of the state’s top throwing duos.
“When Coach (Joe) Cusack is your head coach,” Carlos said, “you better be excited because no one gets more excited about a sport than him.”
Cusack certainly has reason anticipate this spring, as the Wildcats return several top athletes from a squad that has placed second in the Class 4 state meet the past two years.
“We’ve got a lot of athletes,” Cusack said. “We feel we’re going to be competing right there the next two years.”
The Davis twins are part of a stellar junior class that has Cusack already thinking ahead. Khalil placed second and Carlos ninth at state in the discus, Kai Miller qualified in the pole vault, Jake Peister was 10th in the triple jump and Stephen Mugeche placed third in the 3,200 meters and fourth in the 1,600.
“Stephen Mugeche, a top-notch kid and great human being,” Cusack said. “His goals are to be a state champion in the 32 and 16, he’s going run the open 800 and try to get to state there, too, and he might factor into our 4-by-800 relay.”
Cusack said he’s also anticipating big contributions from junior Lane Williamson in the pole vault, senior Eli Leavell in jumps and middle distance, senior Tyler Brooks in jumps and hurdles, junior sprinter Kane Harmon and sophomore middle distance runner Colton Gurera.
Seniors Antwon President and Darrius Shepherd, both signed to play college football, return from an eighth-place 4x400 relay, but Cusack said Shepherd is rehabbing a football injury and might not be available to run this spring.
“That’s our foundation,” the coach said. “We’re going to be solid in field events, have a great distance runner and some new guys in the sprints.”
YOUNG BUT EXPERIENCED: In athletics, it’s sometimes said that the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores.
It’s even better if those freshmen experienced some success right away.
Such is the case with the Fort Osage girls soccer team, which lost just two starters and sports 10 sophomores among its 13 returning letter winners from last year’s group that finished 11-10-1 (7-5 Suburban Middle Seven).
“We’re in good shape,” Indians coach Andrew Fletcher said. “We have pretty much the same team as last year, and we’re hoping this group will stay together.”
One of those sophomores, Falisha Jones, will miss the season after having surgery for a torn ACL suffered during the indoor season. But that class includes returning goalkeeper Lydia Calderon and leading scorer Leigh Anne Bartlett.
The team’s juniors, Stevee Naudet and Zoe Bedsworth, are three-year starters who lead the defense and midfield, respectively, and defender Taylor Lloyd is the team’s lone senior. Freshman midfielder Kelsi Shaberg is the lone varsity newcomer.
With the wealth of returning experience, Fletcher said things have been installed a lot quicker in the preseason.
“We’ve had some good practices; we’ve got a lot of athleticism and talent,” he said. “We’ve skipped lot of steps we had to go through last year. I’m happy with where we’re at.”