Distance remains the primary strength for the Washington track team.

The Lady Jays boast the last two state champions in the 800-meter run and back-to-back state medals, including one state championship, in the 3,200-meter relay.

Washington returns one half of the longest distance relay from last season in juniors Mia Reed and Lilly Nix. Reed was also a part of the state championship relay team from two years ago and holds two state medals in cross country and one in wrestling.

The girls aren’t the only talented distance performers for Washington as the Blue Jays bring back senior Noah Little, a state medalist in the 3,200-meter run last spring, a state qualifier this past fall in cross country and a Division I signee for Southeast Missouri State University.

Also on the girls side, the Lady Jays bring back junior Morgan Gratza a two-time state medalist in the high jump. Gratza climbed from eighth on the podium two years ago to third this past spring and broke the school record in the event multiple times in the process.

Key returners to not end up on the state podium yet include senior Sophia Olszowka (thrower),  juniors Emma Duncan (sprint, hurdles, triple jump), Conner Maher (sprints) and Kaleb Briggs (sprint and triple jump) and sophomore Ingrid Figas (hurdles, long jump).

A host of newcomers include junior Jessie Donnelly and freshman Julia Donnelly (both cross country standouts), freshman Trevor Buhr (all-conference defensive end in football), sophomore Avery Johnson (distance, high jump, long jump and triple jump) and freshmen Clyde Hendrix (sprinter, high jump and long jump), Kellen Schiermeier (distance) and Ella Kroeter (sprinter, pole vault and triple jump).

“We are learning that opportunity is limited,” Washington Head Coach Mike Olszowka said. “We need to focus at practice and stop thinking that recovery days are days off.  As we continue to learn and work we are hopeful to reach our season goals.”

A total of 35 girls and 45 boys are out for the team this season.

A tough conference rival this season will be Wentzville Liberty.

“They have nearly everything returning, and have brought in a big freshman class,” Olszowka said.

Jim Ogle, Tim Rinne, Denver Ellis and Jaime Opfer will serve as assistant coaches.

Editor’s Note — This was written prior to the COVID-19 stoppage.