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story.lead_photo.caption In this 2019 file photo. Kiara Strayhorn clears a hurdle while competing for Jefferson City in the Class 5 state track and field championships in Columbia. Strayhorn now competes for Capital City. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

The Capital City track and field athletes want to compete against someone other than their teammates.

"Last year, they only experienced probably the worst part of track and field, which is the cold preseason practices," Capital City coach Scott Gschwender said. "They didn't get to experience the fun part of it."

The fun part is the meets, which begin today when the Cavaliers and Lady Cavaliers host Eldon in the Capital City Warmup. The dual meet is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

The roster numbers are also good, considering Capital City won't have a senior class until next school year.

"We're still pretty good with three classes with a little bit more than 100 kids," Gschwender said.

Following today's dual, Capital City will compete in quads at Hermann, Union and Owensville, allowing more athletes to compete in events. With fewer the teams competing, that's more athletes each school can enter in events.

"It will give us an idea of what we've got," Gschwender said.

The girls team will have six athletes who competed in the Class 5 District 6 meet two seasons ago with the Jefferson City Lady Jays, prior to Capital City High School opening.

The most decorated of those athletes is junior Kiara Strayhorn, who went on to finish third in the 100-meter hurdles and seventh in the high jump at the Class 5 state track and field championships at Battle High School.

"Everyone's highly anticipating what she can do," Gschwender said. "Right now, the main objective is making sure she gets the training she needs and continues to improve."

Juniors Gwyndolyn DeFeo, Elizabeth Dunn, Alyson Linhardt and Carrington Stilabower all competed in distance running events two years ago at districts.

DeFeo will run mid-distances, while sophomore Sarah Kirby will run the two-mile.

"We're looking to see what they can bring to the table," Gschwender said.

Strayhorn's younger sisters, Kalie and Kloey Strayhorn, will be sprinters for the Lady Cavaliers. Other sprinters include junior Nayeli Hoilett, sophomores Nyemah Whitley and Michaela Hightower, and freshmen Malaika Kamara and Audrina Houston.

"They've all been working extremely hard in the sprints group," Gschwender said. "Hopefully what we can do is build with them and hopefully score some points as well."

Junior Shayla Stewart was a thrower in the shot put and javelin two years ago at districts for the Lady Jays.

"She was awfully good as a freshman," Gschwender said. "She's throwing really well right now."

Sophomore Michelyn Appiah will be a thrower as well. Junior Anastasia Koopman will be in a mix of events, like the 400-meter dash, pole vault and triple jump. Kloey Strayhorn is also a pole vaulter.

On the boys side, Gschwender was impressed with junior Connor Hull's performance in the time trials in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, as well as sprinting events.

Other sprinters include junior Ethan Wood — who will also be a long jumper — and freshmen Blou Sotonwa and Keion Grieve, who was all-state in cross country in the fall.

"He does have some distance in him, but he wants to be a sprinter," Gschwender said of Grieve. "We can put him in a lot of events."

Sophomores Emmanuel Borde-Koufie and Cameron Harrison are also sprinters for the Cavaliers.

Mid-distance runners include juniors Ben Lear and Braden Voss, while sophomores Colin Voss and Brock Schofield will be distance runners.

"We're playing with people, to see where they're going to score the most point," Gschwender said.

Junior Ian Nelson and sophomores Samuel Albert and Matthew Boyer will be throwers. Junior Tarrick Dyer will be a jumper and a hurdler.

One point of pride for Gschwender is the Capital City athletes have been able to work out on the track at every practice, even if that meant starting practice by stretching in the gym before moving outside.

"They've got to know what it's like to run in weather like this," Gschwender noted of last week's cold, rainy weather.

Capital City will compete in two regular-season meets across town April 17 and May 7 at Adkins Stadium, and will compete in the inaugural Central Missouri Activities Conference meet April 24 at Sedalia Smith-Cotton.

"Everyone wants to win conference, everyone wants to win districts," Gschwender said. "I'm glad our conference decided to schedule that meet a few weeks prior to districts, that way you have a couple more weeks to prepare for districts."

Experience may not be on Capital City's side this season, but Gschwender and his staff have a positive outlook for this season.

"It takes four things to be successful," Gschwender said. "You need support from the administration and parents, you need to have the right training plan, you need to have the right coaching and then you need the right kids.

"Right now, we have all four of those things."

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