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Otis track team deals with injuries, illness

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Otis-Bison High School track and field coach Travis Starr has plenty of talent in the sprints and jumps with seniors Jordan Hoffman and Annie Kraisinger and freshmen Taylor Regan and Brad Lightfoot. However, keeping everyone healthy is a challenge. At Tuesday's Ness City Invitational, six Cougars were absent because of forensics and five others, including Regan, were sick.

Hoffman, who has dealt with injuries during the past year, including at the 2013 state track meet, had pulled his quad and felt some tightness. Starr sat him Tuesday for precautionary reasons. Lightfoot is out with a back injury, but should compete for the first time this spring next week.

"Right now, we are shorthanded," Starr said.

Kraisinger was fourth in the 200-meter dash and fifth in the 100 at Class 1A state as a freshman, then qualified for both events and didn't place as a sophomore. Last year, Kraisinger was bothered by a knee injury and didn't make it to state in any events.

Kraisinger was the only one of the four healthy Tuesday. She was among the top runners in the 100 and also won the 100 at the season-opening La Crosse meet (13.58). Starr labeled Kraisinger "pretty quick" off the start and "pretty fast" in the first 60 to 70 meters.

"Start of the season, she was a lot quicker than what she was coming in last year," Starr said.

Hoffman swept the 100, 200 and 400 at La Crosse and had a terrific showing at the Pre-State Challenge at Wichita State University last week. At La Crosse, Hoffman ran 11.26 in the 100, 23.37 in the 200 and 52.12 in the 400.

Hoffman, the lone Class 1A runner in the Elite Division, finished fifth in the 100 in 11.36. He took eighth in the Elite 400 (52.65) and fifth in the 200 (22.89).

Hoffman currently stands second in the 100 and first in the 200 in 1A, according to Carol Swenson's statewide list. Starr said Hoffman has had a hip problem, but "nothing that can really get any worse."

Hoffman and La Crosse's Levi Morss were expected to be the top 1A sprinters last year, but Hoffman suffered an injury on the first day of state track.

"He is in shape, so that's good as far as that goes, and the speed is still there," Starr said. "We just need to get him healthy and healed up for later in the year, so we are not battling the same problem that we had last year at state track."

The tall, athletic Regan won the 400 at La Crosse in 1:04.87, was second in the long jump (15-9) and won the triple jump (34-3.75).

At Pre-State, Regan took eighth in the Elite triple jump (32-3.5) despite jumping from well behind the board, and finished eighth in the 1-3A competition in the long jump (14-10.75).

She also finished seventh in the 400 dash (1:06.00) in 3-1A. Starr said Regan went to the doctor to look at a thumb injury from basketball, and they discovered she had strep throat.

"Works hard, good kid and listens to you, and you tell her something and she will believe it, and do it," Starr said. "Very coachable kid, and she is talented."