Watch for some breakout stars as Ames boys track hits reset button in 2022
The Ames boys track team is putting on a fresh coat of paint in 2022.
The Little Cyclones graduated most of their state qualifiers and scorers off last year's team that placed fourth in Class 4A at state. They are also bringing in a new coach as former Ames state track champion Erica Douglas takes over the program.
The Ames boys know there will likely be bumps in the road this season as they begin the rebuilding process. But they don't plan on being down for too long.
“It’s a fresh slate,” Douglas said. “It’s an opportunity for a lot of new people to step up and build a successful program. If you look at Ames High boys track, they see the 20 state titles on the board and see the possibilities of being a good program. It’s helping them learn to believe this could be them.”
It will take some time for Douglas to get used to the athletes and find out what events they will best be able to help the team.
“We’re not looking to tomorrow," Douglas said. "We’re looking to May and next year.”
Douglas is fortunate to have a tremendous senior leader to lean on in her first year. Corey Phillips returns as a state place-winner in the discus.
“Kids gravitate toward him and they love him,” Douglas said. “He’s just such a staple for Ames High.”
Phillips placed third in 4A at last year's state meet. He began 2021 following in the footsteps of place-winner Gabe Greenlee. By the end of the year, he was the top thrower on the team, tossing a distance of 171 feet, 4 inches at state to edge Greenlee by just under 3 feet for third.
He wants to top that this season.
“It’s the same goal we had for basketball,” Phillips said. “That’s to win a championship.”
Phillips was an important part of Ames' state champion boys basketball team that dominated the 4A field a couple weeks ago in Des Moines. Coming in fresh off that amazing championship run, his throwing is naturally a little rusty.
But he expects to be in top form by the end of the season.
“It’s been a while since I’ve thrown, but I know what I have to do coming into the year,” Phillips said. “I have to hit the reset button again and work on my technique. Once I focus on that, wherever I go is where I go.”
He's also happy to help Douglas get things figured out to make her first year a success.
“People look at me as a leader,” Phillips said. “I’m just trying to set a good example of what it is to be a part of this program.”
One of the competitors that has looked up to Phillips is junior Darren Lampley. Lampley will be throwing shot put and he had a successful indoor season for the Little Cyclones.
“Having Corey around increases the atmosphere of the whole throwing area and the whole team,” Lampley said. “He’s the first one to congratulate us on a really nice throw and he makes sure we all are accountable for ourselves.”
Lampley hopes to carry the mantle of team leader when Phillips graduates.
“The best thing I can do is just be there for my teammates,” Lampley said. “We have a lot of first-year competitors, so the best thing I can do is be there for them."
Other athletes that currently look poised to have a breakout year are junior Lucas Lueth, freshman Manny Lueth, senior Ethan Prakashan, senior Karsen Holm, senior Will Copley, junior Grant Crespi and sophomore Charlie Bennett.
The Lueth brothers will be running middle-distance events and will also try out the high jump. Prakashan is a sprinter, Copley a middle-distance runner and Holm, Crespi and Bennett are all distance runners.
Bennett was a state cross country qualifier in the fall.
“We have a lot of guys that could surprise people,” Douglas said. “Lucas Lueth and his brother Manny and a lot of seniors out that didn’t get a lot of recognition. Guys that see that this is their opportunity. They seem really eager to take advantage of it.”
Lampley is ready to show people what he and his teammates can do.
"We’re just going to put our best foot forward and build our team up,” Lampley said. “We’re going to try and win as much as we can.”