Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

March 27, 2013

Healthy Bulldogs looking for big season

(Continued)

Junior Matt Gibson could provide the Bulldogs with some jumping depth, but has been focusing mostly on the hurdles. Gibson was one of the St. Anthony members lost to injury last season, and has been hard at work to make an impact in his return.

"He had a stress fracture last year from basketball, did minimal work early in the year," Wiedman said. "He's healthy now and looks improved. The 300 hurdles is where he is really focusing."

Something different about this year's team will be the availability of a number of sprinters. In years past, the roster has been dominated by cross-country runners, and the short-distance races have suffered because of it.

Not this season, as sophomore Connor Greene and exchange student Francesco de Filippi give Wiedman's squad two solid bodies in the sprints.

"Connor's got a sprinter's body, he appears fast," Wiedman said. "With the weather we haven't had the chance to see yet. Francesco's never done any track, but he's a big, solid kid."

Also in the mix is senior James Ritz, an upperclassmen in a sea of younger runners. Ritz has worked tirelessly over the previous three seasons to improve as a sprinter, and appears ready to do some damage in his final go-round.

"I've watched him from the seventh grade," Wiedman said. "He's really worked hard, he has worked on his form. He has grown confidence-wise and is coming into his own."

Aside from giving the Bulldogs some depth in the sprints, the trio, along with Gibson, will likely come together to form a formidable relay team. That's a luxury for St. Anthony, as Wiedman usually has to piece together a "hodge-podge group" from the remaining members of his roster.

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