Track and field: Many top performers ready to run, jump and throw
LES KNUTSON Daily Globe LUVERNE -- With a total of 48 boys on its roster, perennial power Luverne is again gearing up for another spring season of high school track and field. The Cardinals, coached by veteran mentor Craig Nelson, are scheduled t...
LUVERNE - With a total of 48 boys on its roster, perennial power Luverne is again gearing up for another spring season of high school track and field.
The Cardinals, coached by veteran mentor Craig Nelson, are scheduled to host an outdoor meet Tuesday, one day before the calendar turns to April.
“We are excited for the new season,” exclaims Nelson, who also guides the Luverne girls (the area girls’ track and field preview will be featured tomorrow). “We have a lot of boys out for track, which creates great competition in practice. For the most part, the weather has been good and we have been outdoors often. We are looking forward to watching our kids compete in meets.”
Track practice could officially begin at Minnesota high schools on March 9 and, this year, the area was greeted early with warm weather and dry ground. Although the temperatures have cooled down recently, more practices than usual (in March) have been held outside.
Luverne enjoyed another stellar season in 2014, including an impressive third-place performance at the Class A State True Team meet in the middle of May. Later, the Cardinals placed eighth at the season-ending Minnesota State High School League’s Class A state meet in early June.
Five senior veterans return after qualifying to compete at the MSHSL state meet last year. Payton Stemper, Drew Weis and Ethan Marshall all ran on Luverne’s 4x800-meter relay team at Hamline University in St. Paul, while sprinters Jackson Winter and Trenton Rops (also a fine hurdler) return, as well, with state-meet experience. Marshall qualified individually to run in last fall’s Class A state cross country meet.
At Pipestone Area, senior Mason Reynolds (a gifted sprinter and long jumper) returns and is joined by junior Eli Stevens, who finished a close third in the 400-meter dash at last year’s Section 3A meet, just missing a state-meet berth. A pair of athletic freshmen, distance runner Michael Suda (Class AA state runner-up in wrestling at 113 pounds and a Class A state-meet cross country qualifier) and hurlder/jumper Tyl Woelber, will likely score their share of points for the Arrows this spring.
Jackson County Central brings back seniors Warren Darling (school record holder in the long jump, who can race favorably at any distance from 100 to 800) and proven thrower Brandon Schmit (third-place at the 2014 Section 3A Meet in both the shot put and discus). Sophomore Matt Strom has grown bigger and is adding the discus to his abilities as a middle-distance runner.
Windom Area returns three sprinters from its state-qualifying 4x100-meter relay team, including seniors Alex Leopold and Tyler Morgan (also a stellar competitor in both the discus and shot put), while juniors Brian Ogeka and Brown Ogeka are accomplished long and triple jumpers. Senior hurdler Aaron Axford and sophomore distance runner John Irwin are among the other top returning Eagles.
Lots of exceptional all-around athletes will be scoring points in the Red Rock Conference this spring as Fulda junior Brian Fenske (also a long jumper) and Adrian senior Taylor Recker (also a high jumper) will likely square off again as two of the area’s premier 400-meter dash runners.
Hills-Beaver Creek sophomore Zach Scholten is the defending conference champion in the high jump and Murray County Central junior Jack Erickson won a close 1,600-meter race in last year’s conference meet. The Rebels are also blessed with junior Clayton Hartle (state qualifier in both cross country and wrestling), giving MCC a pair of top-notch distance runners.
Mountain Lake Area junior Slade Harder and Southwest Christian/Edgerton junior Dillon Mulske both had lots of success as distance runners in 2014.
Fulda seniors Alex Holmes (pole vault), Tom Salentiny (shot put) and Bennett Appel (hurdles) are strong leaders for Fulda, while senior thrower Logan Weis is a top prospect at the combination of Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Red Rock Central.
MCC is also hosting a meet Tuesday (at Slayton), while JCC has a home meet (at Jackson) April 2.
Looking ahead, most area teams will participate in the Trojan Relays in Worthington on May 8, with both the Big South (at Redwood Falls) and Red Rock Conference (at Slayton) Meets scheduled for May 14.
A change this year will be that the Sub-Section 9 and Sub-Section 10 meets will be combined into one South Sub-Section meet, set for May 21 at Pipestone. The Section 3A meet will be held this year at Luverne on May 28.