The Wildcats lost a pair of sprinters on the boys team, which was further hampered by a transfer, while the girls team will be looking to several new faces to help rebuild the squad that produced a top-three finish at the state level three years ago.
The Wildcats return several key members of last year’s team that finished third in Class A last year – Trigg’s best finish in nine years.
But the Wildcats will be lost a pair of sprinters, and Shelton has been unable to find any long distance runners – a hole that was glaring at the state level last year.
"We will be stronger in our field events than our sprints this year, but the cupboard isn’t bare. We just don’t have a lot of depth right now," Shelton said.
The Wildcats lost Second-Team All-State sprinter D’Angelo Cavanaugh to graduation, and Jon Wilson, who tied for the region championship in the 200 meters last year, moved to Murray, bolstering their region title chances.
Senior Frank Russell, who finished third in the region in the 100 meters, returns and will add the 200 meters to his slate this year, Shelton said.
Brothers Dennis and Greg Acree return for the 400 meters and 1600-meter relay team after qualifying for the state meet last year.
Dennis was sixth in the Class A meet, and Greg just missed qualifying for the finals by less than a quarter-second.
Dane Bolton, who qualified for the state meet in the 110-meter hurdles after a second place region finish last year, also returns for the Wildcats.
Freshman Scottie Mayes, who finished seventh in the 300-meter hurdles at state as an eighth grader, will see his slate expanded to include the long jump and the 1600-meter relay team with the Acree brothers and Stephon Smithers.
Mayes will also help Trigg try and defend their 400-meter relay state title along with Russell, Steven Wadlington, and Kewanis Kennedy.
Shelton said the Wildcats would likely not be able to defend their 800-meter relay state title, instead focusing on other events.
Barron Adams and Landen Burcham, will compete in the 800-meter run, which will be the largest amount of distance Trigg will be able to field this year.
"We’re going to be strong in our hurdles and middle distance, but we just don’t have anyone for the long distance events," Shelton said.
Trigg County’s field events should see a significant improvement and could make up some of the difference lost by the distance events.
Steven Wadlington, a second team All-State selection in both the discus and shot put, will return with his sights set on topping Murray senior Cory Zirbel.
Zirbel swept both events at the region level, with Wadlington second in the shot and third in the discus. The Wildcats senior also posted top four finishes in both events at the state meet.
Shelton said Wadlington has already thrown 48 feet in the shot, which is two feet farther than last year and two feet behind Zirbel’s region winning toss.
Taylor McGee will be looking to improve on his ninth place finish in the region shot put last year and could give the Wildcats some added points in the field events.
Michael Moseley, who won the region in the pole vault, also returns for the Wildcats, who will try and add depth to the event with the addition of Barron Adams and Bradley Stewart.
In the jumping events, Stephon Smithers and Rozell Boyd will try and score points for the Wildcats in the high jump, while Smithers and Aaron Acree will tackle the triple jump.
Trigg County beat both Crittenden County and Murray by over 50 points for the region title last year, but Shelton sees all three teams in the mix this year.
"Murray should be the front runner because they have a lot of kids back. Crittenden has Tim Hill back who will score in the sprints. It should be a three-team race," he said.
Shelton has his largest squad in terms of numbers, but 14 of the 18 team members did not compete last year.
Sophomore Sarah Woodall won the region in the pole vault last year and was ninth at state. However, she is not the only team member with state meet experience.
Junior Lanika Mayes missed last year with a knee injured suffered in basketball. She finished eighth in the 400 meters at the 2003 state meet and qualified for the 100-meter dash.
Crystal Bacon, the only senior on the team, qualified for the state meet in the shot put two years ago, but was ninth at the region meet last year and fourth in the discus, missing out on a return trip to Lexington.
"This is the biggest team I’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of numbers," Shelton said. "We’ve got a lot of new faces, and we’re a work-in-progress. We have to get the talents they have to mesh with where they are strongest."
Shelton said he still isn’t sure where several people will run most of their races, using the early part of the season to move some people around.
Shelton will also rely on three eighth graders, including Janada Acree in the 100 and 200 meters.
"She will run with the middle school team and then join us full time after their season ends," he said.
Taylor Bryant will also see action in the hurdle events, while Laquisha Boyd will compete in the field events.
"We’re inexperienced, but we have some talent and should get better as the season goes on," Shelton said.