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Madras track and field drastically rising in numbers, reaching over a 100 kids to start season.

STEELE HAUGEN - Justin Plant (at left, yellow shirt) and Bryce Simmons, second from right, lead the way for the long distance Madras track and field runners. They ran through the halls of the school.The Madras track program is on the rise and doesn't show any sign on slowing down. The program has seen an incredible increase in the number of participants since head coach Andrew Jensen took over the program in 2017.

"We just really want to build the momentum we gained from last year," Jensen said. "It is just about building that momentum with numbers first and worrying about results second. We have almost 100 kids signed up this year."

The program took four athletes to state last season and all four raced in the final heat, placing in the top eight.

"This year our mantra is win slow, leave a legacy," said Jensen. "We want to work on on the small details in every single practice, trying to get better and also doing things that aren't track related: going out and doing some service projects, helping the community developing the things that are more important than track, like life lessons."

Last season was one of the most successful track seasons the program has seen in around a decade. Sophomore Olivia Symons is the only district champ returning this season in the 100-yard dash. She also placed second in the long jump and finished in eighth at state.

The Buffs also have senior Dalton Waldow returning from a second-place finish at district (200-yard dash) and an eighth-place finish at state.

STEELE HAUGEN - Patty Speakthunder practices her hurdle events inside the cafeteria."We want to gain momentum and just keep going so Madras track and field can be a big program for years to come," he said. "We have a lot of new adds this year that I am really excited about. When you have 100 kids out for track, you have a lot of kids you can pull from. I expect a lot of the kids that come in are going to race for the top and do some really good things."

Compared to recent years, the program saw huge numbers last season, when about 70 athletes turned out, but the 100-plus of this year reflects another marked improvement.

"We have such an awesome group this year," Jensen said. "They have not complained and just have such great attitudes being indoors. We are making the best of it. We are not too worried about it right now. It is such a big season, we will have plenty of time to be outside."

Several other promising athletes and relay teams will be returning for the Buffs and are looking to show off their improvement.

"The team is looking very strong," Waldow said. "We have a lot more numbers than even last year and people keep getting better and better every day. I want to go to state, like everyone else's goal should be."

"We have a lot of talent this year and I think we can send quite a bit of people this season," he said. "I feel strong about our team heading into district right now and I think we can send five to 10 athletes to state."

The track program was supposed to host a track meet on Wednesday, but due to the snow, it has been canceled. They are also planning are traveling to Crook County for a relay meet on March 21, but are not certain if it will be held due to the weather.

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