Not happy with the finish of last season’s men’s track and field team, Cowley College head coach Mark Phillips is excited about the possibilities of this year’s squad as it prepares to open the season Jan. 6 at the Kansas University Invite in Lawrence.

The squad has a solid group of 10 returning athletes to go along with an intriguing group of 16 freshmen.

Cowley is led by sophomores Dominique Carrasco, Mace Metcalf, DeShaun Williams, Drew Wells and Isaiah Evans.

“They have all worked very hard and are a tremendous group of leaders,” Phillips said.

Carrasco is the indoor school-record holder in the 60-meter hurdles, and will be a force in the hurdles and as a member of the relay teams.

Metcalf was named the Male Field Event Athlete of the Meet at the 2016 Region VI/Jayhawk Conference Outdoor Championships. He placed 10th in the decathlon at last year’s Outdoor National Championships, and should challenge the school records in the decathlon and heptathlon.

Wells, the school record holder in the outdoor high jump, had a strong fall season that should lead to his breaking his record in the high jump, while Williams is a returning All-American high jumper who will challenge the school records.

“Those two have worked very hard and will be fun to watch,” Phillips said.

Evans is a strong thrower who should place at nationals, and challenge the school records in the weight and hammer throw.

Fellow sophomore thrower Austin James will be better than a year ago, while Parker Ray worked hard in the offseason and will help the team in the multiple events. Stephen Muckenthaler also returns to the team to join Ray in the decathlon.

Connor Wright, a sophomore transfer from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had a solid cross country season, and can compete anywhere between the 800- and 3,000-meter runs. And Solomon Titus has improved a great deal since joining the team last season at the end of the first semester. He will compete in the long jump, sprint events and relays.

Seven freshmen who ran as part of the Tigers’ cross country team will help the squad in the distance medley relay and 4×800-meter relay.

“We have a lot of freshmen distance runners that can fill events,” Phillips said.

Freshmen who gained experience running cross country were Miguel Ibarra, Clayton Fletcher, Bryan Gutierrez, Livan Aguilar, Andres Ruiz, Richardo Sanchez Jorge Ramirez.

Trent Lawrence, a freshman from Coweta, Oklahoma, should pair with Metcalf to challenge the 16-foot mark in the pole vault.

Gari Garmendia, from Ordizia, Spain, and Kenneth Nesbitt, from Bellville, Illinois, have the potential to be national qualifiers in the shot put, and also are working on learning the weight throw and hammer.

Garrett Schulte is a transfer from Hutchinson Community College who will compete in the discus. Adrian Moxey, from Naples, Florida, will help the team in the middle distance events, and Jakalub Rhodes, from Beaumont, Texas, will run relays, and compete in the 400- and 800-meter runs.

Local athlete Luke Kuffler, from Arkansas City, is a decathlete who will be joined by area sprinter Derek Ailor, from Sedan, and pole vaulter Ivan Shelton, from Winfield.

If the squad can stay healthy and continue to progress throughout the season, the team could challenge Coffeyville for the conference title and be one of the top three teams in the region.

“We are excited to get started,” Phillips said. “We want to knock out some national-qualifying marks early and then work throughout the season to get stronger, fitter, and faster.”

This information was provided by Cowley College Director of Institutional Communications and Public Relations Rama Peroo.