Following four weeks of practice, the Gardner Edgerton High School track squads get the season underway March 31 at the Shawnee Mission South Relays.

The Blazer boys will be a battle-tested group of athletes, motivated to improve on last year’s second-place EKL finish and first place 5A Regional finish.

“We will rely on upperclassmen to lead us into the 6A realm,” said coach Brian McGee, who is starting his seventh season. “We are excited to enter 6A and have 16 of 21 state qualifiers on this year’s squad.”

Top returnees include seniors Tim Seymour (state medalist – 300 hurdles); Marcus Williams (state medalist – 110 hurdles); Zach Hickman (state qualifier – high jump); and Ryan Weisenburger (state medalist – pole vault); and juniors Dewey Molenda (state qualifier – 800 meters) and Matt Mayeske (regional Champ, state medalist – 110 hurdles).

Assisting McGee are Loren Groves (hurdles), Mike Gunderson (javelin); John McIntire (horizontal jumps); Darrel Wait (vertical jumps); and Larry Ward (distance).

Equally impressive will be the Lady Blazers who return a solid nucleus.

Returning state medalists include Danie Plank (first at state in javelin) and Ashley Bilhimer (second at state – javelin); Hannah Schneider (first at state – shot put); Plank (shot put); Taylor Claybon (300 hurdles); Natalie Mitchell (pole vault); Kyla Martin (100, 200 and high hurdles); 4×100 relay (Claybon & Martin); and 4×400 relay (Claybon, McKenzie Scroggin and Abby Clabaugh.

“2012 looks promising, especially in the throwing events,” said coach Larry Ward. “We’ve got three all-state scorers returning in the throws. The loss of Jalisa Brice in the long and triple jump and the move to 6A will be big challenges for our team.”

Other top returnees include senior Tessa Curbow, Jill Starling, Jessica Cisneros, Kyra Burcham, Cassie Wait, Courtney Allen, Rowan Turna, Katie Groshong, Gaby Rhodes, Jade Visos-Ely, McKenna Douglass, Sarah Rhodes, Haley Dean, and Sierra Gray.