All-American Jeffrey Muiruri and the Blue Dragon Men open the 2018 indoor season on Saturday at the Highland Challenge. (Joel Powers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
All-American Jeffrey Muiruri and the Blue Dragon Men open the 2018 indoor season on Saturday at the Highland Challenge. (Joel Powers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)



When: Saturday, January 13, 2018

Where: Walters Wellness Center, Highland, KS

Field Events: 10 a.m.

Running Events: 1 p.m.

Live Video: Via Highland Community College, 11 a.m.

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

There is going to be plenty of new faces on the Hutchinson Community College men's track and field team in 2018.

Only eight sophomores return from last season. Of those eight, four qualified for nationals and only two All-Americans are back.

Some might think that's a bad thing with Hutchinson competing in one of the toughest track and field regions in the nation. Blue Dragon head coach Pat Becher isn't among those with that belief.

"We are cautiously optimistic, but we have a lot of talent on the men's team," said Becher, whose 34th season with the Blue Dragons opens Saturday with the Highland Classic. "We have a huge number of freshmen this year and I want to use this first meet to run all of them."

The 2017 Blue Dragons finished ninth in at the indoor Region VI championships and 21st in the NJCAA Indoor Nationals. To improve those numbers, Becher will have a squad of 42 men, 34 who are freshmen.

Sophomore Kadrin Williams leads the deepest group of sprinters Becher has had at Hutchinson. Williams qualified in the indoor 60-meters and placed 11th overall last season at the NJCAA Indoor Championships with a time of 6.78 seconds, the third-fastest 60-meter time in Hutch history. He made the 100-meter outdoor finals last spring and finished ninth.

Outdoor All-American hurdler Jeffrey Muiruri (Great Bend) finished 18th last season in the indoor 60-meter hurdles. Muiruri earned All-America honors with an eighth-place outdoor championship showing in the 400-meter hurdles at Gowans Stadium in May.

Aaron Shannon (Cincinnati), who also played football in the fall for the Blue Dragons, was part of Hutchinson's indoor 12th-place distance medley relay (10:44.06). Shannon and Williams were on Hutch's outdoor national qualifying 4x100 relay team.

All-American Trey Teeter (Holcomb) finished fifth in the javelin in 2017. He won't compete until the outdoor season.

"We have a lot of tremendous talent on this team," Becher said. "Our region is so tough; we could finish fourth or fifth and finish in the top 10 in the nation. I think we have that type of team if we stay healthy.

"When you count on freshmen, you never know what you have."

Depth in the sprints has lacked for several seasons with the Blue Dragons. That will be different in 2018

In addition to Williams, sophomores Tevin Brown (Norton) and Ta'Marche Mason (Junction City) return. Freshmen Denilson and Donovan (Murfreesboro, TN), Alex Grays (Decatur, AL) and Blue Dragon football players Otis Williams (Tampa, FL), Devon Henderson (Marietta, GA) and Marcus Edwards (Kississimee, FL) will give Becher depth in the open sprints and many options for the relays.

"I really believe this group could set some records," Becher said.

Among some other athletes to watch:

+ Freshman Richard Newman (Topeka) was a state champion high jumper last season at Topeka High, clearing 7 feet. He also won state in the long jump at 24 feet and if needed, ran 10.6 in the 100 meters where he was a state finalist.

+ Tre'juan Cash (Lynchburg, VA) and Kelby Lawrence (Newton) are freshmen who will join Muiruri in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles.

+ Middle distance runner Alec Perrone (Hutchinson) was a state-runner-up in the 800 meters at Hutchinson High last season.

+ Myles Hansen (Coweta, OK) is strong in the middle distance and clears 15 feet in the pole vault.

+ Sophomore Jeremy Stiebens (Hutchinson Central Christian), Jared Stark (Hutchinson) and Grant Clothier (Goddard) will be the long distance runners. All three ran on the Blue Dragon cross country team in the fall.

+ Freshman D.J. Norman (Hutchinson) went 6-7 in the high jump at Hutchinson High last season.

+ Freshman Garet Johnson (Remington HS) won the state championship in the shot put last season.

"I feel good about our throwers, but we aren't as deep as we have been in past years," Becher said.