The Lyons Township High School girls track and field team enters the outdoor season with plenty of confidence based on recent results and returning talent. Last spring, the Lions boasted eight individual event or relay team state qualifiers and LT also claimed the West Suburban (Silver) Conference indoor title this year.

“We are trying to raise the expectations even higher so girls can really show how good they are this season,” coach Greg Frandsen said. “We want girls not just to be happy to go downstate but to be all-state runners. I really think we could qualify for state in 10 to 12 events and should be the team to beat in our conference.”

Senior Julie Dambra, who finished fourth at the 2011 state finals in the 400-meters with a time of 57.61 seconds, returns to anchor the Lions’ loaded lineup. The DePaul recruit holds the distinction of holding four West Suburban Silver records, more than any athlete in the history of the conference. She will anchor the 1,600 relay team, in addition to vying for a state championship in the 400 meters.

Fellow senior Lisa Gordon is the other individual to place in last year’s state finals with a time of 11 minutes, 14.53 seconds in the 3,200-meter run en route to a 12th place showing. Gordon also holds the school record for the 1,600 meters with a time of 5:04.8.

Other notable runners include senior pole vaulter Sarah Peters, senior sprinter Melissa Hoo, senior sprinter Gabriella Pavletic and senior long-jumper Nicole Hladik.

Junior Makayla Hubbard, a returning state qualifier in the shot put, also won that event at the indoor conference meet. Freshman Emma Haugen has already made an impression in the high jump. Her leap of 5 feet, 7.5 inches is already tops in the state, and she has established new school records in the long jump and triple jump.

The Lions’ relay teams, headlined by the 3,200-meter team of Claire Johnson, Gordon, Randie Speir and Amy Bazzoni, are all capable of winning conference titles.

Harris eyes long-jump title for LT boys

By virtually any measure, LT junior Matt Harris is a great athlete. During the football season, Harris serves as the Lions’ premier versatile weapon offensively playing quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist in the same game.

In the spring, Harris is a team leader for the Lions’ track team, competing in multiple events. The speedy junior is a viable threat to win the Class 3A state championship in the long jump.

Last year, Harris jumped 21 feet, 11.25 inches to claim 10th place in the state finals. More recently, he won the long jump (23-2) and garnered third-place finishes in the 55 dash (6.65) and 55 high hurdles (8.17) to propel the Lions to a top-three finish at the West Suburban (Silver) Conference indoor event held on May 16 at York.

Lino Mogorovic and Harris’ football teammate, Rennick Thompson, – both strong hurdles performers in the 55 low hurdles and 55 high hurdles respectively – could also excel in individual events this spring.

Harris will likely join Mogorovic, Mike Thomas and Giovanni Young to comprise the Lions’ top relay group, the 800-meter relay squad which won the conference indoor meet title at York, posting a time of 1:33.10.

Quentin Sanchez, Ed McCarter, Michael Matusiak, Mike Dost, Dan Miklosz and Alejandro Lima could all see action on the other relay teams.

Aside from Harris, the Lions’ other 2011 state finalists – Dylan Fielder (13th in state, 6-1 in high jump) and the 3,200-meter relay team of Alex Economou, Tim Pollard, Dan Hill and Sam Telfer (3rd in state, 7:44.99) have graduated.

The Lions kick off their outdoor season at the Hinsdale South Relays on April 7.