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JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School track-and-field team starts its season at the Austin Westlake Relays on Feb. 23.

And head coach Kyle Futrell believes a change by the University Interscholastic League in how athletes advance to regional meets will benefit his athletes.

Starting this year, Classes 1A-5A will hold area track meets. That means the top four finishers in District 25-4A will have to finish in the top four at the area meet, which will pit that district against 26-4A, to move on to the Class 4A Region IV meet.

“And I think we know by now that our district is one of the toughest in the state,” Futrell said about the advantage he believes his team will have at the area meet. “So that’s why I think it’s a good thing for us. If we were in a different district, I might not feel that way.”

The area meet won’t have preliminaries, so all running events are finals.

The Mustangs will be led by Cody Schulz, Brian Shrubar, Rey Baltazar, Chance Daniels, Garrett Gray, Jordan Wright and Carson Bowen.

“Our depth is going to be greater on the boys side,” Futrell said. “And some of those guys who ran well last year, JV kids, of course, we’re hoping they’ll step up and be a part of that depth for sure.”

The Lady Mustangs will rely on Sarah Stripling, Sarah Lewis and Reann and Teagan Hall and freshmen Chase Martin and Natalie Schulz.

“We’ve got some real good young girls to go along with those who we’ve had for a couple of years,” Futrell said.

The UIL also added a wild-card qualifier for the state meet. The top third-place finisher of the four regional meets in each event will advance.

“It’ll get (each event) to nine (competitors),” Futrell said. “It’s because (the University of Texas, where the state meet will be held) has a nine-lane track.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com