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HSCHS track and field begins season in Cody

THERMOPOLIS - The track and field season gets underway for the Hot Springs County High School Bobcats and Lady Bobcats this Saturday in Cody.

First-year track and field coach Aimee Kay takes over the HSCHS track program from Ernie Mecca who retired last spring. Participation is still up and each Bobcat and Lady Bobcat athlete has been working hard to prepare for this season.

"Our numbers are comparable to last year, we currently have 30 kids out. We have a decent amount of returning upperclassmen and a nice selection of freshmen, that gives us a nice balance," said Kay. "We're working really hard and it has been a good start."

Kay has coached in some capacity in the district for the past 27 years, having last helmed the HSCHS volleyball program.

Mecca was a big influence on Kay and she plans to use some of the things she learned from him, while also adding a few things on her own.

"I've learned a lot from the coaches I've worked under and having Ernie [Mecca] as a mentor the last few years is a definite strength.

"I'm trying some new things too. We're running squads where we have a senior or upperclassmen leader. Then we work out our warmup section with squads that go all the way down to sixth grade. So that the younger kids have that role model, squad leader they can look up to. I think it will have those squad leaders step up and be good role models. I'm excited to see how that goes," said Kay.

When looking at her team, Kay believes her Lady 'Cat distance runners, McKenna Bomengen, Tahja Hunt and Olivia Weyer, and hurdlers like 'Cat Ethan Becher will be among the team's strength this season. Then with some work over the season, her sprinters and jumpers could score points for the team.

"Our cross-country kids are coming off a state championship for the girls. Our distance is always really strong, the kids just seem to have a lot of mental toughness and grit. You can have them run in any kind of weather and they will never complain. They're an exceptional group of kids.

"We have some good hurdlers coming back. Ethan Becher is coming off an injury but he's showing a lot of hard work so far. We've got some younger kids that show some promise in our sprints and we have some high jumpers that are coming along," said Kay. "Then we have some kids that have never even gone out for track. So we've got some new blood and that's very exciting."

The Yellowstone Sports Medicine Invitational at Cody High School this Saturday is Thermopolis' first meet of the season. Unfortunately, with spring break, they won't be at full strength, nonetheless, for those 'Cat and Lady 'Cat athletes that do make the trip to Cody. It will be a good opportunity to see how they compare against the field.

"Our spring break starts this week and we have some kids going to the Dominican Republic, so we'll be low on numbers. But it's an opportunity to get some competition time in and see how we compare to other kids, knowing that there's still a lot of time and room for growth," said Kay.