Any mention of "the big 3" is a double-edged sword for Mingus Union track and field Coach Yancey DeVore.
His girls team claimed a 3-peat at last year's Division III state track and field championships.
In doing so, however, the Marauders lost "the big 3" that played a huge role in the Mingus girls winning three consecutive state championships.
Gone are Heather Calandra, Justine Taylor and Monica Soliz. For the past three seasons, all three were money-in-the-bank performers and multiple state champions for the Marauders.
"Those are huge points and big shoes to fill," said DeVore.
Interestingly, though, none of "the big 3" scored as many points in last year's state meet as did Marauder Megan Goettl and the junior distance ace is back and as strong as ever.
Goettl finished 2nd and 1st in the state the past two seasons in the 1600 meters. Even better, Goettl has incredible range. She was 5th at state last year in the 3200-meter run, even though she competed at the distance on only two occasions. She was a medalist last year at 800 meters and ran a blistering leg on the Marauders state champion 4X800. What's more, she can step down to 400 meters; she was a member of Mingus' state championship 4X400 team as a freshman.
"She can do so many things and do them well," DeVore said of Goettl. "Do we run her in the longer races, or hold her back and use her in the relays? We will try and figure that out as we move forward."
Distance-wise, DeVore said Goettl is in good company this season. Although she is new to track, junior Tori DuCharme is expected to be strong at everything from 800 to 3200 meters based on her strong showing in cross country in the fall. Freshman Sydney Alexander is also expected to excel in the distance events, as is sophomore Cassia Gehl.
Another Mingus performer who has always risen the occasion on the state-meet stage is senior Allison Whitworth. Last year, she placed 4th in the pole vault and 5th in the high jump.
Like Goettl, DeVore said the real challenge with Whitworth is finding the perfect fit for her.
"We know she's good at all the jumps and pole vault," DeVore said of Whitworth. "But she's also a good sprinter. She has to be considered for the relay. And, she's even talked about trying the hurdles. There are a lot of different ways we can use Allison."
In addition to Whitworth, the Mingus sprint corps features sophomore Auli Hanks, who qualified for the state meet last year as a freshman. Sophomore Brianna Epperson is also back and is a threat in both hurdle events, the 200- and 400-meter dashes and all three relays. Makenna Jung proved herself a top sprint threat last year and freshman Hannah DeVore is also expected to be a strong addition in both the sprints and hurdles.
Senior Kylie Streck also returns for Mingus after earning a trip to the state meet last year and she will be a solid points-producer in all the jumping events and pole vault.