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Trojan boys return six top scorers

WORTHINGTON -- Last spring was a stellar season for the Worthington High School boys' track and field program.

The Trojans, paced by the scoring abilities of nine seniors, won the Southwest Conference championship with exceptional depth and balance.

Six of last year's top 15 scorers on back this spring, giving WHS co-head coaches Ken Henkels and Mike Traphagen reason for optimism in 2007.

"We have some outstanding individuals who will score well in the open events," declared Traphagen about this year's prospects. "We need to work on putting together competitive relay teams. We lost a lot of points (through graduation) in the field events."

A total of 10 lettermen are back for the boys, including five experienced seniors.

Senior Joel Olson was the second-leading scorer for the Trojans last spring, as a high jumper (5'10") and sprinter. Olson placed in three individual events in last year's conference meet and ran a key leg on the second-place Trojan 4 x 200 meter relay team.

Senior Brian Juber has run 1600 meters under five minutes (4:58) and 3200 meters in 10:55, giving the Trojans a solid lead distance runner.

Senior middle distance runner Felipe Ortega was selected as last year's Most Improved Performer after finishing seventh on the team in scoring. He ran the 800 meter run in 2:11 last spring and knocked on the door of the five-minute mile (5:01).

Senior Dennis Pham ran the 3200 in 11:25 last season and will try the pole vault this year, helping WHS score in the field events, as well as the distance runs.

Senior Neal Melton returns as a solid sprinter for the Trojans, competing in both dashes and contributing to the sprint relays.

Junior Travis Pederson was third in scoring for the Trojan boys last year and capped a fine all-around season by winning the triple jump (40'6") at the conference meet. He has run a 52.6 quarter and finished third in the conference in 2006 in the 400 meter dash. He can also score points in the long jump and sprints, but may contribute on relay teams too.

Sophomore Aduo Omot is an accomplished middle distance runner and triple jumper (37'9"). He finished sixth in scoring for WHS last year and has run the 400 and 800 in respective times of 53.5 and 2:06.

Sophomore pole vaulter Joe Dickey cleared eight feet last spring as a freshman and looks to improve this season, as does freshman distance runner Jesse Canales, who clocked a 2:17 in 2006 as an eighth-grader.

Junior Tom Mammen was injured last season and was unable to compete, but he lettered two years ago as a freshman and will run the hurdles and compete on the sprint relays for the Trojans this spring.

With a total of 29 boys, grades 9-12, on the roster, look for the Trojans to be competitive again this season. Included in that number are six seniors, 10 juniors, four sophomores and nine freshmen.

After an indoor meet yesterday at Gustavus in St. Peter, the Trojans compete again indoors at Mankato Tuesday.

The first outdoor meet is scheduled for April 7 at Brandon, S.D.

The Trojans will again host the Worthington Invitational (April 26) and the Trojan Relays (May 10).