If the Oak Harbor boys track team is going to continue its historic success, the big boys will have to lead the way. For the girls, the runners dominate the returning talent.
The Oak Harbor boys are two-time defending district champion, taking the past two titles after not winning one since 1992.
Last spring the Wildcats collected both the league and district crowns in the same year for the first time since 1978.
Many of the key contributors to those titles graduated, particularly among the sprinters and jumpers.
Back, however, are a handful of experienced throwers: seniors Carlos Beltran, Jeremy Foster and Dayne Herron; junior Piikekai Tarrant; and sophomores Tyler Adamson and Jackson Constant.
Last year Herron (shot put), Beltran (javelin), Constant (discus) and Foster (shot) placed in both the league and district meets.
Senior Chris Hailer (high jump), sophomore John Rodeheffer (3,200) and junior Clayton Richardson (800) also finished among the top eight in both the Wesco and District 1 meets.
Senior Jacob Olson (high jump) placed in the conference meet.
Also back are seniors Jayden Davilla (sprints/jumps), Jacob Fitzgerald (pole vault) and Allen Hills (sprints/jumps); juniors Keenan Davilla (pole vault), Julian Faralan (sprints), Cameron Hartley (sprints/discus), Carlton Johnson (sprints), Austin Marler (sprints), Sheyenne Sams (sprints) and Nate Wagner (distance); and sophomores Robert Miller-Hubbel (sprints) and Connor Paramenter (pole vault).
Johnson and Sams competed on the 4x100 relay team that placed at league and district, and Johnson also ran on the placing 4x400 team.
Coach Jay Turner, commenting on his goals, said, “First and foremost we want the kids to have an enjoyable experience. We also want the kids to improve every week.”
He added, “The biggest weakness is with the inexperience in the sprints and jumps. We have a lot of kids, just not a lot of experience.”
The girls, who finished fifth in the league meet and fourth at district last year, return 14 letter winners.
Senior Christina Wicker placed second in the district 400 and qualified for state in 2012; she also placed in the 800.
Also back is a strong group of distance runners, senior Ashley Everett, juniors Alex Laiblin and Nikki Blanchard; and sophomore Jonalynn Horn.
Returning sprinters include senior Jember Jansen, junior Jackie Dejesus and sophomores Jessica Hollins and Sierra Seabolt.
Laiblin, Jansen, Hollins and Seabolt placed in the post season meets last year.
Senior Ciera Wiser was third in the Wesco javelin in 2012 and is also one of several returning jumpers along with junior Olivia Hunt and sophomore Haley Lundstrom.
Senior Elizabeth Adkins leads the throwers.
Oak Harbor hosts South Whidbey, Coupeville and Lakewood in the Island Jamboree at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14.