By Perry Bell Sports Editor
The Journal Express
---- — The 2012 Knoxville Panther varsity track team was runner-up in the Little Hawkeye Conference Meet to Pella High.
The Panthers finished 13th in the Class 3A state meet.
Coach Mike Cunningham II’s squad was named the 2012 Knoxville Journal-Express Sports story of the year as well.
Back from that team are 19 returning lettermen, eight of them state qualifiers, with seven of them earning state medals.
The returning state medalists include Wick Cunningham, Keaton Thomas, Jacob Moats, Ryan Douglas, Colton Spaur, Tanner Dunkin and Justin Lenger.
The 2013 Panthers have a total of 33 young men on the squad.
When asked what the strength of the team is this spring, Cunningham replied, “It would be that we will have very good kids at most events. The weaknesses would be depth in those areas.”
Cunningham points to Pella as the team favored in the Little Hawkeye Conference.
“We should finish in the upper half of the conference,” the coach commented.
A few of the top athletes that Cunningham counted on in the past, who have since graduated are Derek Seddon, the Drake Relays Champion in the discus, Blake Wyatt, Ross Clarke, Shafer Brown, Justin Garrison and Luke Brady.
The Panthers won five invitational titles in the 2012 season, including the district title.
Odds and Ends
The outdoor portion of the schedule is set to get underway starting March 26 with the Simpson Classic in Indianola starting at 5 p.m.
The Panther Relays were weathered out and not held a year ago. The 2013 version of the event is set for Saturday, April 6, starting at 11 a.m.
The Little Hawkeye Conference Track Meet is April 29 in Oskaloosa.
In closing Cunningham stated, “Our team has some very high goals. We feel we can compete with any school in our class. We might not have the numbers, but we feel we can score a lot of points.”