AMBOY – There are zero seniors on the Amboy High School girls track and field roster.
While some may view this as a negative, Lady Clipper coach Michael Robinson takes it as a positive.
“We don’t have any seniors this year. That’s always a positive because it means we have at least one more year with the relationships that we’ve built,” said Robinson, who has been with the program for nine years and the coach for the last four. “We have four juniors, three sophomores, and 10 freshmen.
“Our juniors, Elly Jones, Lexi Ketchum, Kimber Zitelman, and Skyler Ware, and sophomore Jenna Pinter from LaMoille, are our only returning girls from last year’s team. We have 17 girls this year and 12 of them are new.”
Jones has made it to the Illinois High School Association State Meet as a freshman and a sophomore (triple jump) and is putting in the work for the trend to continue.
Robinson sees potential state competitors throughout his roster.
“We have the potential to send more girls to state this year. It’s just going to depend on how things shake out and how much they want to work,” Robinson said. “Lexi Ketchum has been working really hard on the 800 (meter run) and the high jump for the last two years. She’s motivated and has the capability to go to state.”
Coach is also looking at big leaps from his freshmen.
Grace Althaus comes from a family of top-tier runners and athletes, and Anna Carlson and Samantha Nauman ran under Robinson in cross country.
Also, in the ranks are Amboy sophomores Emma Chandler and Alexis Cheever, freshmen Bella Yanos, Stephanie Nave, and Eriannah Wade.
Freshmen Taylor Wamhoff and Angela Bejarano are from LaMoille and freshmen Jillian Anderson and Mazey Sterling join the team from Ohio.
Ashton-Franklin Center doesn’t have a representative on the team in its second year in the co-op.
“It’s an exciting sign that we have so many freshmen on the team. It means we’re coming back a little bit,” Robinson said. “My first year as head coach was the COVID-19 year in 2020. We had 16-17 kids on the team then. The next year, post Covid, we only had four runners and two throwers. Last year we had 10 or 11 athletes that made it through the entire season.
“The numbers are building. That’s a good sign for what we’re trying to do with the program. I think word of mouth of what we’re doing, trying to motivate and push the kids, is getting around. Kids want to come out and push themselves and try something different.
“We have a lot of great athletes this year because of that.”