Forsan pole vaulter Vanessa Highfield practices at the school Thursday. (HERALD photo/Steve Reagan)
FORSAN â€” Robert Hillger is hoping youth will be served at next week's Region I-2A track meet.
That's because Hillger, the girls' track coach at Forsan High School, will send a team dominated by freshmen â€” five of the eight team members who qualified for regionals are freshmen.
But just because the team is younger doesn't mean it isn't ready to compete at a high level.
â€śThe quality here is much deeper than I've ever had,â€ť said Hillger, who is in his sixth year at the helm of the program. â€śWe don't have a few athletes who contribute â€” they're all pretty good.â€ť
All is not rosy for the team, however. Hurdler Ambra Hill and Raegan Haggard, one of the relay mainstays who also competes in the triple jump and 400-meter run, are battling injuries and their status for next week's regional meet is uncertain.
For Hill, who Hillger said is one of the most competitive athletes he's ever coached, being on the sidelines is excruciating.
â€śYou don't really know how bad you want to run until you can't,â€ť said Hill, who medaled in both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles at last year's state track meet. â€śIt's killing me not to be able to practice â€¦ but it's getting better and it'll be good, I think.â€ť
Aside from Hill and Haggard, FHS' regional qualifiers include Brittney Hergert, Rachel Haggard, Vanessa Highfield, Shelbie Hudgins and Kay'C Stanley, the lone senior of the group.
Stanley said the freshmen have made major contributions to the team's success this year.
â€śThey really stepped up and played their roles well,â€ť Stanley. â€śIt really hasn't been difficult at all.
Stanley qualified for the regional meet her freshman year and says she has a greater appreciation for the feat now that her high school career is drawing to a close.
â€śThere's a sense of urgency,â€ť she said. â€śWhen I made regionals as a freshman, I was like, 'Oh my God, I made regionals!' I was just so happy to have made it â€¦ Now that I'm a senior, it's more like, 'I have to advance, because this is my last shot.'â€ť
The Region I-2A meet will be held Monday and Tuesday at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.
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