Is there a red and baby blue dynasty on the way in Cowapa League track and field?

If there is, the Seaside Gulls are off to a good start.

Numbers alone will make both the Seaside boys and girls challengers for league titles this year. The Seaside boys are thinking big, and within a year or two, could be contending for a state title, their first since 2001.

“We had an incredible turnout,” said Seaside track coach Jeff Kilday, after a whopping 104 athletes turned out for track this spring.

“Last year at the end of the season, we had 63,” he said. “All four classes are big. The freshmen class is pretty large, some baseball kids switched over, and some who just didn’t come out before.

“The success of last year’s four-by-four boys relay team (which won the state title) has pushed some of the numbers,” he said. “We have a lot more boys this year. Success kind of breeds success. When you have 100 kids out, it will definitely make a difference.”

The nice part – the Gulls have very few seniors.

“That’s the good thing,” Kilday said. “It’s a very small senior class. And there’s a group of eighth-graders coming up who will make us that much more competitive next year.”

THE LEAGUE

Depth alone will make the Gulls league title contenders, but talented athletes at Banks could have the Braves standing alone at season’s end.

“Banks looks the best in terms of the girls,” Kilday said. “They bring back every girl except for one, so they’ll be very tough to contend with, and tough to beat.”

The race for the boys’ team title is a little more tough to call.

“The boys is wide open,” he said. “I think it’s anybody’s race – probably between Astoria and Banks, although (the Braves) lost a lot of seniors. They still have a couple good 400 runners there. Scappoose, Astoria, Seaside, Banks … any one of those could win league.”

THE ATHLETES

Sorry if we can’t mention all 104 athletes – Kilday himself is having a hard time remembering names. Especially for the boys, where Seaside lost a lot of seniors, including three of the four who won the 1,600-meter relay at state last year.

“We had 22 seniors last year,” Kilday said. “The only (state qualifier) who’s returning is Brett Willyard. But we gained so many boys this year that we should have a very competitive four-by-four team, if not faster than last year’s team.”

Willyard could be a state qualifier in the 800 meters, and is the only returner on the long relay team.

“It will be tough to make up for Zeke (Smith), but we have some great runners,” Kilday said, including sprinters Taran Johnson, Jonathan Owen and Mitch Stocker.

Instead of scoring points on the track, Kilday said the Gulls will be looking elsewhere for points, starting this season.

“This year, we’ve made our emphasis on field events,” he said. “We have a lot of high jumpers this year – girls and boys – and a large amount of long jumpers and triple jumpers.

“We’re calling it Seaside ‘field and track’ this year. Last year at districts, I felt like the one area we got beat was in the field events, specifically the throws. So our emphasis this year is field events, reminding people that it’s not just about running.”

And the contenders include:

“Lucas Clark should be going to state in the discus,” Kilday said. “He came in fourth at districts last year as a freshman.

“Conner Smith in the pole vault is also one of our two fastest 100-meter runners; Conner O’Brian and Myls Miller should both do better this year in the javelin; and Kelvin Tinoco will be contending in the shot put. He was throwing 45 feet just standing still last week.”

Josh Wills in the triple jump is “taller, bigger, stronger … he should be a great triple jump threat for us this year,” Kilday said.

You can also add freshman David Ward, who cleared 5-9 in the high jump in middle school, which would have been the first place mark in the league meet last year.

On the girls’ side, “almost every girl is back with the exception of April Cockcroft (state qualfiier in the pole vault, and in the high jump before that).”

Returning state qualifiers include Kai Davidson in the high jump, Carlie Gilligan in the 1,500 meters and Kirsten Farmer in the 3,000 meters.

Seaside’s 1,600 relay team is also back intact, with Emily Becker, Taylor Davis, Gilligan and Linsey Johnson, along with Alex Postlewaite. Davis also ran the 800 meters at state.

“Carlie in the 1,500 will definitely be as strong, if not stronger,” Kilday said. “Then we have Linsey and Taylor in the 800 and freshman Kaitlin Lewis in the 100 meters. Along with Riley Tadei (Sr.) and Emily Becker (So.), we’ll have a very fast four-by-one team. Those three are extremely fast, then there’s three or four others who could be the fourth one.”

Lewis – an all-around athlete who could be dominating the Cowapa League in soccer, basketball and track by the time she’s a senior – is also good in the jumps, Kilday said.

In the distances, “Kirsten Farmer and Antona Ferry are both spectacular,” he said. “They were great in cross country. Antona looks great already, and Kirsten is in great shape, too. Distancewise, we’re as strong as ever, if not stronger.”

Which is saying something, from a school that has sent runners like Noelle Harer and Ashley Mayfield on to Oregon State.

Distance runner Bridgette Blakesley, unfortunately, will not compete this year because of a concussion, Kilday said.

Rebecca Cave is a freshman thrower for the Gulls.

“Just in warm-ups she was throwing as far as our best throwers last year,” Kilday said. “We should do much better in the throws.”

Celeste Scougall will also contribute points in the jumps, after placing fifth in the high jump and eighth in the triple jump in last year’s league meet