BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
CANDOR — Candor has some solid numbers with 40-plus athletes out, 26 of them on the girls team. The boys were hit hard by graduation, but have some strong contenders.
"We've got about 43 that have signed up and it's a young team this year. We graduated a lot of seniors last year, especially with the boys team," said Dave Russell, who co-coaches the Indians with Bree Zogaria. "Anxious to see what we have in terms of the kids coming up from the modified group. We've got some good returners as well."
The top returnee is senior hurdler / sprinter Lance Jensen, who established a handful of school records last spring and placed fifth at state in the 400-meter hurdles.
"He's really the biggest key," Russell said. "We lost a lot of senior boys last year, so Lance is the main (returner) from that core group of scorers we had last year.
"We've got some guys that are getting older. We've got Cooper Thayer coming up from the modified team who is a real good athlete. We've got Nash Whitmore coming back. He's a real good jumper. Isaac Lindridge is coming along as a distance runner nicely.
"There's quite a few kids from the modified group that I'm anxious to see out there. I think they're going to do really well."
The girls team has seniors Jenna O'Connell and Erin Bruttomesso among its senior returners. Cross country runners in the fall, they will will look to contend in the steeplechase and 200, respectively.
Freshman Cara Morris is a promising high jumper.
"We've got some good pole vaulters this year, which we haven't had in years," Zogaria said.
"We actually have a pole vault coach this year, so we have some people doing pole vault which will be something we haven't had," Russell added.
"A lot of modified kids moved up," Russell said.
"And some newbies, some ones who've never done anything, which is awesome," said Zogaria.
"With a young team, we're just hoping to really work on their skill development, their athletic development and hopefully have them learn the sport and be competitive," Russell said. "It's hard to know until we see them get out there. There's so much change from year to year."
The teams to beat in the IAC South Small School appear to be the usual powers.
"Odessa is always really strong. Tioga's always really strong. Those are usually the two teams that are toughest," Russell said. "Spencer can be real strong too. It's going to be, I think for us, just kind of a building year and trying to get this whole group of newer athletes that we have up onto shape and see where they're at. Hopefully, we surprise as a team and get some good team wins on the way. We're always focused on trying to get the best out of each athlete. That's the biggest thing."
"It's going to be a real exciting year," Zogaria said.
PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR
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