ROCKTON - The Hononegah girls track team is expecting to find strength in numbers this season.
While the Indians might not have as many individual stars as in the past, Indians coach Danny Savage believes the team can work together to become an outstanding unit.
"There's no question that right now, our strength is in our relays," Savage said. "I think if things come together, we could send our 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 teams all to state. And our distance medley team, they just missed the school record by less than a second, and that's a 13-minute race. I really believe our 4x800 team will break the school record, and that's stood for about 15 years."
Topping the squad when it comes to distance runners are Taylor Frommer, Alicia Repka and Lauren Johnston, all standout cross-country runners in the fall.
Frommer was part of the 4x200 relay and the 4x400 relay that each qualified for state, and she also was the lone Indian to qualify individually when she made it in the 1600. Frommer placed fourth in the 800 at Saturday's Hononegah Girls Invitational, held at Rockford Auburn High School.
Honesty Sandlin is the team's top hurdler after winning the NIC-10's 300-hurdles last season.
"She's back and she's better, but there are some really fast girls in the conference that have gotten faster,too," Savage said. "And they are all going to be gunning for her, so she's going to have to work really hard to stay at the top."
Speaking of the NIC-10, Savage said there's not much question as to who rules the roost.
"Belvidere North is the strongest team again this year," Savage said. "I think we can be about as good as we were last year, and maybe battle Harlem for second place. We've got a good amount of returning athletes, and some new ones that we think can step up for us. We are going to have to fight for every point, just like we did last year."
Junior Megan Leppert will run the 400 along with being a key participant on the relay teams. Freshman Phairra Jones is already perhaps the team's fastest sprinter and will be leaned upon heavily on the team's 4x100 relay that Savage believes has a chance to make state as well.
The team is again without a practice home since the dome collapsed in 2015, and Savage said the team has suffered a bit because of it.
"I don't want to put any excuses on anything, but it's tough just running hallways," Savage said. "Our overall numbers are a little bit down, and I think that could be a reason why. Back when we had the dome, and before the other NIC-10 field houses got built, the girls had a real sense of pride that this was their building. The shame of it is that unless they are able to work ahead of schedule and finish before next May, I'll have an entire class of girls (class of 2019) that never really got to have a practice facility."
The Indians will compete in Friday's Batavia Distance Madness, one of the top distance events in the state, Friday night before heading to Byron Saturday. The NIC-10 Indoor Meet, hosted by Hononegah but again held at Auburn, will take place March 15.
• On the boys side, the Indians lost their lone state qualifier, 200-meter specialist Vito Guerrero. Hononegah placed seventh of 13 teams at the York Boys Invitational Saturday.
Senior Tyler Wilson placed third in the 600-meter race, while Andrew Moore was fifth in the 55-meter hurdles, while also grabbing a fifth-place finish in the pole vault.
Junior Paul Fay, who has some big shoes to fill after John Terry completed his excellent career last spring, placed third in the shot put with a PR heave of 45 feet.
The boys team will also compete in Byron Saturday, while the NIC-10 boys meet will be held at Auburn March 14.