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In the running: The WHS track team has a new class and a positive outlook in 2022

Moving down this year from Class AAA to Class AA, the Worthington Trojans are hoping for much success in the upcoming track and field season.

On a cold blustery Wednesday day afternoon, Worthington Trojans  discus and shot put throwers practice the technical aspects of their craft indoors.
On a cold blustery Wednesday day afternoon, Worthington Trojans discus and shot put throwers practice the technical aspects of their craft indoors.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- For now, the 2022 Worthington High School track and field athletes are focusing on the here and now -- getting into shape and growing accustomed to their practice schedules.

There’s plenty of time to think ahead. But when they do, they’ll probably feel good about the fact that they’re competing in Class AA this year, and not AAA, where their opportunities for state qualifying had been less forgiving. They’ll also notice that they’ve got five regular season meets in Worthington this spring.

 Tim Middagh / The Globe
Returning Worthington Trojans girls track and field participants in last years section meet are (front from left) Jenna Hoffman, Ivania Melendez, Newyouman Gora, Addison Gerber, Bailey Newman, Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor, Adiyam Gebremedhin, Root Gebremairam, (back row) Karissa Bickett, Pham Gora, Olivia Barber, Marisa Their, Riley Nickel, Cassidy Madison Florance Balash, Aisha Zeidi And Nicole Wede.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Last year, the Trojans didn’t even practice on their own high school track, which was still undergoing construction. This year they’ve got the refurbished Trojan Field track facility all to themselves, with home meets on April 26, April 28, May 5, May 14 (the Big South Championships) and May 17 (Trojan Relays).

Abagotte Opiew, who returns as a junior and who placed fifth in the triple jump last year at state, was the only Trojan to compete at that level. Co-head coach Jessica Hogan said this week that the athletes already love moving down to AA.

Worthington Trojans boys Track and Field participants in last years section meet (front from left) Nasim Zeidi, Ofbeka Morke, Faniel Wolday, Mikele Walu, Filmon Wolday,  Kyle Ahrenstrorff (back row) Mason Bobb, Kasey Gerhard, Abagotte Opiew, Charlie Brands, Leonardo Nunez, Mak Liam and Marenono Opiew.
Worthington Trojans boys track and field participants in last year's section meet back for another year are (front from left) Nasim Zeidi, Ofbeka Morke, Faniel Wolday, Mikele Walu, Filmon Wolday, Kyle Ahrenstrorff, (back row) Mason Bobb, Kasey Gerhard, Abagotte Opiew, Charlie Brands, Leonardo Nunez, Mak Liam and Marenono Opiew.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“Our kids put in a lot of work and a lot of time, and hopefully we’ll be more rewarded for our efforts,” she explained.

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Here’s a look at the 2022 girls and boy track and field athletes:

BOYS

Opiew is already one of the state’s top triple jumpers. He also competes in the 400 meters, the 200 meters and the 100 meters, plus hurdles.

“He works hard,” said co-head coach Cory Smidt.

“Versatile. He can do a lot of different things,” said Hogan.

The WHS boys should be competitive in the relays, where they have better depth than they did a year ago. They’re also deep in middle distance running.

Other leaders include senior Mason Bobb (middle and long distance), juniors Marinono Opiew (high jump, 400), Mikele Walu (800, 1600, 3200), Filimon Wolday (middle and long distance), Morke Ofbeka (middle and long distance), Charlie Brands (high jump), Casey Gerhard (throwing events) and Adan Hinojosa (throwing events); sophomore Mak Lia (sprints) and freshman Jacari Swinea (sprints).

“We have great leadership this year. There’s a lot of juniors, and a lot of these kids have been in the system since seventh grade,” said Smidt.

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GIRLS

On the girls’ side, senior leadership is a plus. Proven senior Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor, who’s coming off a fine basketball season, is a seasoned 200-meter dash runner and triple jumper. She’s been a team leader since she was a freshman.

Worthington Trojans (center left) Karissa Bickett  and Jenna Hoffman lead the team in stretching exercise during indoor practice due to cold wet weather Wednesday afternoon.
Worthington track and field athletes (center left) Karissa Bickett and Jenna Hoffman lead the team in stretching exercises during an indoor practice due to cold and wet weather Wednesday afternoon.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Another senior, Bailey Newman, is another good scorer who competes in the 200 and the long jump.

Leadership will also come from junior Ivy Jenson, who will not be able to compete in events due to an ACL injury. Even while continuing with her rehab process, however, she’s seen as an integral part of the sprinter group and plans to stay with the team to coach and encourage.

Hogan can’t be more pleased with the attitude of all the Trojans.

“They’re really self-starters. Every day they just come to get better. I’m really impressed with their work ethic and their attitudes so far,” she said. “We feel we’ve got a lot of good opportunities (to do well). We’ve got a lot of depth on our team. If we improve during the season we think we’ve got a chance to be there in the end.”

Other key girls performers are middle and distance runners Adiyam Gebremedkin (senior), Jenna Hoffman (senior), Emma Singler (senior), Nicole Wede (senior), Karissa Bickett (junior) and Marisa Their (sophomore). There’s also junior sprinter Riley Nickel, shot putter and discus thrower Aisha Zeidi and jumper Olivia Barber. Sophomores Addison Gerber (200, long jump), Pham Gora (100, 200) and New Gora (100, 200) further deepen the girls team.

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Related Topics: TRACK AND FIELD
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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