While the number 13 might seem unlucky to some, this year's Lyons Township boys' track team would feel lucky if that figure played a prominent role in its 2005 season.
That's because last year, the Lions won their sectional and qualified 12 events for the Class AA State track meet. This year they're aiming a little higher, and one of their primary goals is to qualify 13 to this year's meet.
"We're keying all of our goals on (the West Suburban Silver) Conference, sectionals and then state," LT coach Mike Kuharic said. "We have guys that have state-level ability, so we have quality.
Senior Ryan Kuphall headlines the group of returnees after finishing fourth in the state last year in the 1,600-meter run. Kuphall finished that event in 4:24.02 last year.
Kuphall also teamed with fellow returnee Tim Mayer to finish second in the 3,200-meter relay. The senior duo, who also both run cross-country, were less than a second away from a first-place finish at State when they finished in 7:45.96.
Junior Mike Fairbairn is back for the Lions in the strength events. Last year as a sophomore he finished 12th in the state in the shot put, and he looks to be one of the top five competitors returning to that event. He'll also try to go farther in the discus.
Senior pole-vaulter Stuart Ogle made it to State last year, and Kuharic expects him to be among the top 10 pole-vaulters this spring.
Junior Russell Harris went to State after winning the 110-meter high hurdles at sectionals and he is hoping for a return trip. Meanwhile, senior Raysean Hardrick and sophomore Marc Garstca are looking to go back downstate after being part of some successful relay teams that qualified last season.
Among those Kuharic thinks are close to contributing at state level are juniors Neil Loftus, Ryan Prieber and Sharif Elgabri. They'll be blended into some of the Lions' relays.
"We're just trying to mix and match and run a lot of guys right now," Kuharic said. "We won't know anything for about three more weeks. Right now it's all about training, because for us the championship season is just the last three weeks of the season." The girls' track team is also looking forward to what coach Scott Yount thinks will be a successful season.
The team finished third at sectionals last year and also has a cadre of returning
Sophomore Ella Mathieson qualified for State in the long jump and also as part of a 400 relay team than included junior returnees Jannell Gaines and Marisa Trakanovich. Gaines also qualified in the 110 high hurdles. Senior Lisa Bokios is also a returning qualifier after going downstate in the 1,600 run last year. Freshman Jane Simpson, who enjoyed a lot of success in that event during the spring season, will give LT depth in the distance events.
Sophomore Moira Forberg will lead the Lions in the middle-distance events and senior Sally Zeman and juniors Sarah Stuck and Samantha Bunsen will fill in for the Lions on some sprint relays.