By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Bedford North Lawrence faces a transition season, with a new head coach, with young and unfamiliar athletes stepping into the void left by departed top scorers, record setters and postseason qualifiers. That process of changing from one state to another usually takes some time.
Take a deep breath. Time’s up. The Stars, ready or not with so many underclassmen on the roster, will have to prove themselves quickly when the 2023 season shifts into high gear.
Jason Webb, an assistant for the past four years, steps into the lead role for the program, and his first job will be finding replacements for departed stars Lindley Steele (now running at Ball State), Grace Tanksley (running distance at Waynesburg) and Autumn Hall (a fixture in the throwing events). Those are big holes to fill in the lineup.
“We’ve got a lot of young girls,” said Webb, scanning a roster that’s bottom heavy with 20 sophomores and freshmen among the 30 total. “There’s a lot of consistency, a lot of the times are close, so there will be good competition. We don’t have the burners or the people that will throw the distances that Autumn threw, but we will have a lot of competition.
“There will be a lot of teaching, a lot of finding out what everyone can do, where they will fit in. We’ve got a lot of new faces.”
Even with so many unknowns, there are some veterans returning. BNL will count on bigger contributions from Emma Baumgart (distance events), Ellie Anderson (sprints and relays), Francesca Orozco (distance and field events), Kaylin Ritz (pole vault) and Katie Baumgart (throwing events).
Webb also expects Rose and Lilly Dusard, Harryson Hayes (fields events) and Mary Batz (shifting to the 400 from the distance races) to provide depth. That gives the Stars a foundation, although the building on that will have to begin right away.
“It will have to be pretty quick,” Webb said. “We could see some speed on the gym floor (during preseason practice sessions), so we’ve been able to piece some things together, just from being able to get some work done.”
BNL will open the season on March 30 against Mitchell and Orleans.