Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review — Several members of the Bainbridge High School track and field team work through a practice session earlier this week.

2017 Spartan sports preview | Track & Field — Deep bench, fast feet: Spartans set to conquer track and field this season

Nearly 100 athletes are preparing to hit the ground running this season under the returning leadership of Bainbridge High School’s track and field team Head Coach Andy Grimm.

But Grimm, now in his 19th season in charge, won’t be the only veteran at trackside. The Spartans this spring are set with many returning league and district qualifiers.

“Several athletes will be in the hunt for a state berth in mid May,” Grimm said.

“Led by Wyatt Longley, 400-meter school record holder [and] third in state, and James Payne, state qualifier in the 400-meter and 1600-meter relay member, the mid-distance boys should be able to put together a very competitive 1600-meter relay by the end of the season and challenge their fifth place state finish in 2016,” he said.

Last year’s squad ultimately broke the top 10 in both the boys and girls’ division. The girls were fourth in the league, the boys, ninth.

Bainbridge has historically been a powerhouse in the track and field world, and this year’s squad boasts many fine returners, the coach said.

Among the most promising returning girls, Grimm cited seniors Maria Flynn (high jump Metro qualifier, 2016), Jacqueline McVay (mid-distance district qualifier, 2016), Maya Rovelstad (throws Metro qualifier, 2016), Naomi Von Ruden (long distance district qualifier, 2016) and Audrey Weaver (mid-distance/hurdles district qualifier, 2016).

The best performing juniors, he said, included Julia Brooks (mid-distance Metro qualifier, 2016), Grace Cisneros (jumps/throws district qualifier, 2016), Jianna Kauffman (hurdles Metro qualifier, 2016), Sarah Lucioni (third in state in high jump, 2016), Taylee Undem (sprints/jumps, second long jump and 14th triple jump in state, 2016), Emma Chee (district qualifier in pole vault), McKenzie Korican (1600-meter relay district qualifier) and Anna Scott (mid-distance district qualifier).

The squad’s superior sophomores include: Samantha Anderson (Metro Qualifier, discus), Anika Lesko (sprints/mid-distance relays), Natalie Taylor (hurdles district qualifier) and Hannah Tonsmann (mid-distance, 10th in state in 800-meters).

On the boys’ side, Grimm said the top returning Spartans were seniors Eric Jung (Metro qualifier, 2016), Wyatt Longley (mid-distance, third-place state finalist in the 400-meter, fifth place state finalist in the 1600-meter relay, 2016), James Payne (fifth place at state in the 1600-meter relay, fifth-place state qualifier in the 400-meter, 2016), Bryce Hill-Settelmeyer (district qualifier, javelin) and Luke Marshall (Metro qualifier, sprint relay).

Two talented juniors were also returning to the boys division, Kyle Hammer (mid-distance relay, fifth-place state finalist, 2016) and Bo Baird (Metro qualifier, pole vault).

Among the male Spartans’ stellar sophomores, Grimm counted Evan Kimmerlein (fifth in state in the 1600-meter relay), Sebastion Belkin (Metro qualifier, 1600-meters), Andrew Owen (Metro qualifier, high jump), Joe Tabisola (district qualifier, javelin) and Elliott Windrope (Metro qualifier, triple jump).

Some fresh talent had also joined the ranks of the school’s largest sports team, Grimm said.

Some of the top newcomers for Spartan sports fans to watch for are Cole Brundige, Sean Lindsey, Elliot Weaver, Emma Brundige, Jade Gandy, Jacob Carlson, Carlo Ruggiero, Joshua Lewis-Sandy and Reuben Allen.

The team will host their first home meet at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, and compete against athletes from Ballard and Roosevelt High.