With a number of key performers returning, the Sioux Central boys track and field team could be a favorite to win its second consecutive Northwest Conference title.
"We have good depth in numbers and good quality runners," said Sioux Central boys coach Nathan Leidahl. "We have a lot of experience back after losing only five letterwinners last year.
"We have experience at the state level and a lot of kids who want to compete at the state level."
The Rebels return three state meet competitors from last spring, including senior Matt McKibben in the high hurdles, senior Cody Wiitmaack in the 400 low hurdles and long jump and Eric Patten in the 4x800 relay. Jesse Steece was also a state meet alternate in the 4x800 relay.
Leidahl added that he expects good things this season from Josh Hyde and Adam Huebner in the shot put and Dan Bernhardt in the sprints and long jump.
"It will be interesting to see how our team scores points this year," he said. "Individuals and relays will be scored the same.
"We had a very good team last year and it helped blaze the trail for our team this season," he added. "Once an athlete gets that sweet taste of competing at his best and placing well in a meet, it helps motivate them to reach their goals this year."
Leidahl added that his team will be strong in the sprints and hurdles. McKibben is a two-time state qualifier in the hurdles and Cody Wiitmaack is very close to McKibben in those events, the coach said.
"We now have some very good sprinters, with Andrew Phinney, Justin Shideler, Wiitmaack, A.J. Tiefenthaler, Josh Dahlin and Kyle Aronson along with some younger sprinters," Leidahl said.
In the middle distances, Leidahl looks for strong contributions from seven strong 800 runners. At the top of the list in the middle distances are Patten, Steece and newcomer Cody McCall.
Leidahl said his team will also be strong in the distance events, the 1600 and 3200 meters.
"We had a talented cross country team last fall and those kids are all out for track," he said.
McKibben and Wiittmack will pace the Rebels in the field events. Last season, McKibben went over 6-feet in the high jump while Wiitmaack is a two-time state meet qualifier in the long jump.
"We hope to keep the conference title," Leidahl added. "Alta and Aurelia will be two other strong teams in the Northwest Conference."