Optimism is a strong theme for the new Whitnall track and field coaches heading into the 2017 season.

"As the song goes, 'The future looks so bright, you gotta wear shades,' and we have a young but athletic group, which is very versatile in a number of events," boys head coach David Rudey said. "We are strong in the pole vault and mid-distance events/ I am confident we have plenty of speed on the track, and we will hold our own in the jumps and hurdles."

Girls coach Claira Himmel said, "Our team is comprised of a lot of talented, determined young women who are committed to making a statement this year. We have a young team with a lot of potential."

The boys will be led by junior Reid Miller, sophomore David Haun, sophomore John Paulokos and junior Collin Bennett.

"They have the potential to be amazing in and win in multiple events," said Rudey, who formerly coached at West Allis Central. "They are all multi-sport athletes."

Rudey added that senior Austin Marshall in the pole vault and junior Matt Garman in the 400-meter run have potential to do well this season.

"I expect our success will come from our balance as a team," the coach said.

The Falcons opened with the Performance Running Outfitters meet at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on March 18, scoring 8 points for 14th place. Garman was fourth in the 400 meters and Marshall sixth in the pole vault.

Top returnees for the girls squad are senior Taya Fleischman in throwing events, senior Katie Klages in distance, senior Samantha Benzinger in sprints and jumps, senior Neve Kronhelm in sprints, junior Nicole Fox in pole vault, junior Melissa Okus in sprints, junior Amanda Arteaga in distance, sophomore Samantha Loeffler in sprints, sophomore Bridget Finn in distance and high jump and sophomore Alyssa Tolson in distance.

In addition, Whitnall adds some talented freshmen in Brooke Klatkiewicz (sprints) and Alondra Arteaga, Dijana Mitrovic and Sonja Mitrovic, all in distances.

The team tallied 5 points for 16th place in the Parkside meet. Fleischman was fourth in the shot put, Fox 10th in the pole vault and the 3,200 team of Arteaga, Sonja Mitrovic, Klages and Finn 10th as well.

"These young women have high expectations for themselves, and our program and continually show how dedicated they are to improving as a team," Himmel said. "We are looking forward to see what they have in store this season."

The Falcons will compete in the Racine Case Invitational on Saturday, April 1, and then again in the Woodland Conference Indoor at 2:45 p.m. Friday, April 7, with both meets at Parkside.