Youngsville and Eisenhower will head to Hickory High School on Saturday for the District 10 Class AA Track and Field Championships.
Cassi Swartzbaugh, Youngsville's school record holder in both hurdle events, will make the trip as the county's highest seed and the only seeded girl from the two schools.
With a number-one seed in the 300-meter hurdles, Swartzbaugh will have a target on her back, as she tries to do better than last year's placement-a commendable fourth-place finish even though she fell in the final stretch of the race.
Despite holding the school record for the 100-meter hurdles as well, Swartzbaugh isn't seeded in the event at the district meet, but she is by no means out of contention for a spot on the podium.
"I'm going to say two words to her tomorrow and that's, 'have fun,'" said Youngsville girls coach John Victor. "'You're a senior, take everything in and let's do it.' She's worked hard this week, as have all our athletes this week.
"Rocco (Gatta) has a very good shot in the 400 (for the boys team)," said Victor. "I think Abbey McLaughlin has a decent shot in the 200. We've worked hard this week, and it's see what happens. There's an opportunity for a number of athletes on both sides to break out..."
For the boys team, the lone seeded athlete representing Youngsville will be Gatta, who clinched an eighth seed in the 100-meter dash and the third seed in the 400 event. Gatta will be going into the district meet with the goal of getting back to the state meet, which he qualified for last year as part of the 4x400-meter relay team.
"A lot are in the position where they feel they can place....," said Youngsville boys coach Jeff Manelick. "You're only as good or bad as your last race, so it really comes down to how they perform tomorrow. We work toward districts, training-wise, so hopefully it falls into place.
"I think we have a few guys who are capable. Of curse, Rocco in the 100, 200, 400 and shot... In the field, Mike Hamrick is focusing on the triple jump and is seeded in the middle of the pack, and you never know when you have a breakout jump. Both the guys in the throws - Austin Mechling has been a surprise all season... and Mitch Wilcox is just a freshman. Again, if he gets improvement, who knows."
Eisenhower's Matt Eernisse, the school's only seeded athlete, will be competing against Gatta as the sixth seed in the 400.
"Every year at the districts meet we see kids perform way above their seedings," said Eisenhower boys coach David Bauer. "Matt's the kind of kid that could really beat those expectations. He's a hard worker, you just need to run a good race and overperform.
"Ben Perkins (could surprise) in the pole vault," said Bauer. "We really thought he would have progressed further this year, but he's had some injuries. He's a little behind, but he's been working hard lately and he certainly has the ability to jump 13-6 (the state-qualifying height). A real surprise might be Jacob VanHouten in the 300 hurdles. He took on the event this year and has made huge reductions in his time. We don't think that will stop and we hope to see more of that tomorrow.
"It'll be an interesting meet," he said. "We have a boatload of juniors and sophomores going, it certainly is a great experience for them because they have the possibility of going back next year."
For Eisenhower's girls, "Well, we have Taylor Talasky who is running in the 100 and 200," said Eisenhower girls coach Mike Logue. "Bizz Baran is running the 400 and 800 and Julia Bauer is running in the 1600. Our objective is to lower our personal best, and to set some goals and meet those goals.
"We are also running the three relays," he said. "Our best time in the 4-by-4 has been a 4:43 and we are looking to really lower that and get into the 4:20's."
Baran has qualified in the past in the 400 and the 800 and she and Taylor Talasky have run relays at districts in the past (with Lacey Stanko).
"The girls like to use the term, 'this isn't the first rodeo,'" said Logue. "I like that because the experience and leadership between Baran and Talasky has really shown in this past weeks worth of practice."