Aside from a pair of 2012 state qualifiers, the St. Anthony girls track team will look almost entirely different this season, including its coach.
Rob Brown has taken over for Kimberly Kabbes after previously coaching the junior high, and is stepping into a program that is heavy on underclassmen.
Only two seniors return to the program, but with that being multi-talented performer Kassy Dammerman and senior sprinter Melissa Bushur, Brown certainly isn't complaining. Dammerman qualified for the state preliminaries in the 100-meter hurdles, just barely missing out on a spot in the finals with her time of 16.57.
"Kassy has put in some adjustments, it should carry her well going forward," Brown said. "She's also a good sprinter."
Dammerman will have to be a jack of all trades for the Lady Bulldogs, running in hurdles, sprints and also participating in the triple jump. Bushur is another senior sprinter Brown can lean on, and the first-year coach said she's a very good weapon to have.
"We're looking pretty solid in the sprints," he said. "That should be one of our strong areas."
Though a lot will fall on the shoulders of the two seniors, Brown can also count on the return of state qualifier Sarah Wortman.
Wortman, a junior this season, jumped 9 feet 6 inches in the prelims of the pole vault at the state meet last year, but recorded a NH (no height) in Saturday's finals at Eastern Illinois University. Brown has been impressed with Wortman's and Dammerman's ability to lead, and says their thirst for competition suits his team well.
"Even though I'm thin on seniors, Kassy and Sara have embraced this role," Brown said. "They love to compete. Our best practices are when I instill a little bit of competition."
Brown has even seen the fiery competitive urge in his freshmen, a large group that will have to step up beyond their years for St. Anthony to produce significant success.