Last year, everything went right for Duchesne at the TAPPS Class 5A State Track and Field Championships, with the Chargers' third-place finish the best in school history.
Head coach Kenneth Jackson said the odds aren't in Duchesne's favor.
We graduated a few key seniors. We just don't have the depth, Jackson said. We don't have much margin for error.
But Duchesne doesn't lack quality, making the Chargers one of the favorites at a wide-open TAPPS District 3-5A Track and Field Championships on Tuesday, April 19, at Houston Christian. Duchesne will battle foes such as St. Agnes, Incarnate Word and St. Pius for first place.
Once again, Duchesne will rely on Shannon Klenke, the most decorated athlete in the school's history. Now a senior, the distance standout recently signed with the University of Arkansas to run track and cross country.
Klenke is the defending state champion in the 1,600-meter run and set the state record (5:09.77) in 2009. Klenke also was second in the 3,200 a year ago, an even she's previously won.
Jackson said Klenke is the obvious choice in both events, even if she hasn't been her old self.
Shannon's struggled a little bit, for her anyway, Jackson said. Physically, I don't think she's felt all that great. If she's healthy, she's got a chance to win both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Klenke isn't the only notable athlete for the Chargers. Sophomore Jackie Manley was a bronze medalist at state last year in the 800, while sophomore Sarah Welter was fifth in the 400.
Jackie is our best middle-distance runner. She's pretty talented, Jackson said. It's the same deal for Sarah. She did a great job as a freshman and she's picked up where she left off.
Junior Katy Wefelmeyer, like Welter, is dangerous in the 400. Jackson believes she has the ability to break one minute.
Katy's been one of the biggest surprises, Jackson said.
Freshman Nenye Okoro has emerged in the 100 and 200. Okoro is Duchense's top sprinter, although Jackson feels there's room for improvement.
Nenye's not quite there yet, but you can see the potential, Jackson said. She's run some good splits on the relays.
Junior Razan Beidas also could score points for the Chargers in the 300 hurdles.
For Duchesne to threaten for the TAPPS District 3-5A title and the upcoming regional and state meets, the Chargers need continued success from its relays.
Last year, Duchesne placed in the top four in all three relays.
The 4x400 relay of Klenke, Manley, Wefelmeyer and Welter has to be considered a medal possibility at state, after coming in second last year.
The 4x200 relay is expected to advance to state, although Jackson hasn't finalized his line-up. Likely candidates include Beidas, sophomore Bridget Daly, Manley and Okoro.
Meanwhile, the 4x100 relay includes Beidas, Daly, Okoro and Wefelmeyer.
Duchesne has point-scoring opportunities in the field events, led by Daly in the long and triple jumps, Okoro and Manley in the high jump and sophomore Ada Oguejiofor in the shot put and discus.
We don't have the numbers we did last year, but we're still pretty good, in my opinion, Jackson said.