Area teams look to step up in tight SWC race

WORTHINGTON -- Last spring, the Pipestone Area Arrows repeated as Southwest Conference girls' track and field champions, while Redwood Valley won the boys' team title, dethroning 2006 champion Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Last spring, the Pipestone Area Arrows repeated as Southwest Conference girls' track and field champions, while Redwood Valley won the boys' team title, dethroning 2006 champion Worthington.

While spring has been slow to arrive this year, the seven member schools of the Southwest have been gearing up for another competitive season and will strive to perform well at the conference meet, which will be held in Redwood Falls May 15.

Worthington was previewed last week and here is a look at the other four conference schools in the Daily Globe coverage area.

Boys Jackson County Central

Loaded with abundant numbers, the JCC boys could be a strong contender for the conference championship.


The Huskies return 16 lettermen and have an impressive total of 34 boys, grades 9-12, on the roster.

Six seniors, four juniors, 16 sophomores and eight freshmen are battling to make the JCC line-up.

"We have a strong group of young distance runners and we have good depth among our sprinters too," says JCC head coach Brian Cook about his boys' team. "There is also lots of quality among our field event performers, so we can be competitive in nearly event."

Senior pole vaulter Cole Von Ohlen -- a state meet participant last spring -- leads the list of experienced field event veterans.

Seniors Andrew Dowd, Jerek Bannister and Stephen Sidney, along with the sophomore trio of Matthew Buschena, Austin Erickson and Calvin Brothers, give the Huskies lots of depth in the shot put and discus events.

Seniors Brandon Halverson and Jason Cook lead the sprinters, but will be pushed by juniors Jordan Cholik and Pat Garvin, along with sophomore Taylor Menke.

Cook, a top-notch triple jumper, runs a strong 400 for the Huskies, as does junior middle distance runner Nathan Brandt and junior hurdler Tyler Schultz. Sophomore Trevon Bargfrede also is running the 400 with authority.

Garvin will compete in the high jump, while Halverson, Menke and freshmen sprinters Eric Salzwedel and Steven Salzwedel have looked good in the long jump.


Sophomore Matt Kocak and freshman Marc Strom are a solid one-two punch for the Huskies in the distance running events, while freshman Justin Cook and sophomores Collin Fischer (also working as a sprinter) Aaron Fields, Sam Hendrickson and Jon Troe give JCC exceptional depth in the long races.

Pipestone Area

The Arrows return seven key lettermen from last year's squad, which finished fourth in the conference meet.

Senior weight man Derek Sumption -- a state meet qualifier in the shot put last spring -- leads the list of lettermen, along with senior distance runner Bo Johnson.

Taylor Pals, a junior, will team with Sumption to give the Arrows a strong one-two punch in both weight events.

Junior hurdler Brian Kooiker and sophomore sprinter Colin Cooper return with experience, as do sophomore Eric Stark and freshman Casey Kooiker.

Among the top prospects for this season are junior distance runner Kasey Klosterman and freshman sprinter Tyler Evans.

With a total of 20 boys, grades 9-12, head coach Todd Tinklenberg seeks to continue the improvement shown by the Arrow boys last season.


"We made great improvements in the boys' program with a lot of young kids last year," Tinklenberg said. "We are hoping that with a little more experience, we can compete with the perennial favorites."


The Cardinals will be young, but there are several talented boys with track and field experience that will score points for LHS this spring.

Hurdler Ben Uphoff, the team's top point-producer in 2007, graduated last spring. He ran well at the state level in both his junior and senior years.

Luverne returns eight boys that qualified for last year's section meet and brings back a total of 14 lettermen.

"We have a good group of boys," says head coach Craig Nelson. "We have some returning experience and several new additions will give us more depth."

The Cardinals bring back their entire sprint relay teams from last season -- and none of the four are seniors yet.

Junior sprinters Devin Nelson, Mark Van Aartsen and C.J. Xaisongkham join sophomore Erick Phommaracksa as those relay veterans.


The foursome of Dakota Steensma (junior), Eric Woodley (junior), Greg Muller (sophomore) and Matt Oehlerts (eighth-grader) qualified as a 4 x 800 meter relay team to the 2007 section meet.

Senior Matt Syphokham (distance), juniors Sam Dooyema and Codie Swanson (both throwers), freshman B.G. Xaisongkham (sprinter) and eighth-graders Hayden Bauman (sprinter/hurdler) and Nathan Stensland-Bos (pole vault/distance) also are returning LHS lettermen.


The Eagles return seven lettermen from last year's youthful squad and second-year head coach Kelly Brinkman has a total of 16 boys, in grades 9-12, competing this spring.

Seniors Michael Johnson (all three jumps, sprints) and Brett Lohse (sprinter/long jumper) are back, as are junior pole vaulter Dillon Schwalbach and junior hurdler Jesse LaMaack.

A trio of returning sophomore lettermen are Bryce Quiring (weights), Ron Venapusala (sprints) and Mike Farrell (distance).

Top newcomers include junior Craig Kneeland (sprinter/pole vaulter) and freshmen distance runners John Curley and Ryan Vesey.

"It's encouraging with more boys," says Brinkman. "We have several good athletes that are good workers and will give us more versatility to cover more events this year."


Girls Luverne

A perennial powerhouse, the Cardinal girls appear strong in both individual talent and team depth again this spring.

Veteran head coach Craig Nelson returns 18 letterwinners on his 54-member roster (five seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores, 13 freshman, 14 eighth-graders and 13 seventh-graders).

Headlining those veterans are seniors Lexi Heitkamp and Allison Henke, along with junior Kayla Raddle, sophomore Britton Dyer and freshman Katlyn Sawtelle. All five competed in the state track and field meet in 2007.

Heitkamp is a good high jumper and an outstanding middle distance runner.

Henke qualified for the state last year in the 400 meter dash and Sawtelle -- as an eighth-grader -- competed at the state meet in both the pole vault and the 300 meter low hurdles.

Raddle and Dyer both ran on a pair of Cardinal relay (1600 and 3200) teams at last year's state track meet.

"This could be a very good girls' track team," says Nelson. "We have talent, leadership and enthusiasm."


In addition to the five girls with state meet experience, the Cardinals also bring back six athletes that competed at the section level a year ago.

Senior sprinter Stephanie Hendricks, senior distance runner Amanda Kannas, sophomore shot putter/discus thrower Callen Sawtelle, sophomore sprinter/triple jumper Alyssa Stegenga, freshman sprinter Hannah Baartman and eighth-grade middle distance runner Paige Nath all return with section experience.

Seven other returning letterwinners include freshman sprinter/hurdler Gretchen Schneekloth, sophomore pole vaulter Jackie Broomfield, freshman sprinter Gretchen Nowatzki, and a quartet of throwers -- senior Natalie Willers, sophomores Kayla Kruger and Stephanie Van Wyhe, along with freshman Ashley Dohlman.

Pipestone Area

The defending conference champion and state true team champions lost a trio of top performers (Carolyn Cooper, Steph Kocourek and Beth Tinklenberg) to graduation -- and injuries have taken away this season for a couple of other key athletes.

Still the Arrows have a bundle of top-notch girls returning and will seek to get quality individual performances and competitive relay teams.

There are 14 letterwinners returning on head coach Todd Tinklenberg's 26-member squad, giving the Arrows good depth too.

Freshman Bree Woelber is an outstanding all-around performer, having competed in last year's state meet in the long jump and on three Arrow relay teams. She will run both hurdle races this season.

Junior Jena Kozlowski also returns off of all three state relays teams and should be a real force in the open 400 this spring.

Junior Ann Marie Dykstra and sophomore Amanda Schoonhoven are a pair of proven distance runners, while the trio of senior Amanda Hillard, senior Gina Fencie and freshman Trisha Sumption give the Arrows strength in the throwing events.

Senior Brianna Ford, sophomores Meg Viland, Alyssa Petersen, Casey Griebel and Courtney Evans, along with freshman Claire Haubrich and eighth-grader Tess Cooper also return with varsity experience.


The Eagles lost several key performers through graduation, but return a solid nucleus with 13 returning letterwinners.

Senior Christy Nepp is back as a strong force in both the shot put and discus. Sophomore Lindsay Elston, a hurdler and jumper, was also a big point-producer for the Eagles last season, as was sophomore sprinter Abby Luitjens.

Freshman middle distance runner Chelsea Garrison and senior hurdler Maria Lund are also stellar performers, as are senior distance runners Carrie Jones and Katie Turner, along with senior thrower Hollie Kremmin, junior thrower Alecia Norby, sophomore middle distance runner Emily Grandprey, freshman distance runner Emily Turner, eighth-grade sprinter Kelcey Olson and eighth-grade middle distance runner Meredith Hentgen.

Second-year head coach Kelly Brinkman is also excited about the potential of Sarah Riedel (a junior foreign exchange student from Germany) in the sprints, along with eighth-graders Hannah Steele (throws) and Morgan Potter (pole vault, hurdles)

"We have a good mix of experienced veterans and upcoming prospects," summed up Brinkman about the Eagle girls.

Jackson County Central

Nine letterwinners return for the JCC girls, who have several veteran leaders, along with some talented youth blending together this spring.

"We have good experience and great leadership among our older kids," head coach Brian Cook said. "We have talent among the younger kids, especially in the sprints."

Eighth-grader Sarah Darling recently won the 100 meter dash at a quadrangular meet at Windom, and along with senior Sally Clarksean, sophomore Jasmine Timko and eighth-grader Tracey Steffen form a fleet-footed 4 x 200 meter relay team.

Junior throwers Alyssa Nelson and Kateyan Ruby will score points for the Huskies, who are also seeking production from Steffen, Clarksean and freshman Hope Belknap in the jumping events.

Belknap, freshman Sarah Voehl, junior Brittany Deel and sophomore Carin Neal are among the top JCC middle distance runners, while Clarksean and senior Sarah Buresch lead the hurdlers.

Seniors Britney Schneekloth and Katelyn Thiner will also contribute in the throwing events, while eighth-graders Lacey and Lexi Schneekloth are good prospects in the sprints and jumps.

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