Trojan track & field teams race into new season

WORTHINGTON -- With 11 returning girl letterwinners and a grand total of 17 lettermen back for the boys, the Worthington Trojans appear to have both talent and depth as they approach the 2008 track and field season.

WORTHINGTON -- With 11 returning girl letterwinners and a grand total of 17 lettermen back for the boys, the Worthington Trojans appear to have both talent and depth as they approach the 2008 track and field season.

Having already competed in a pair of indoor meets with good results, the Trojans are gearing up for a competitive outdoor season, which started with a meet at Brandon, S.D. Saturday.

"We have been practicing for more than three weeks and have had the chance to compete four times," says co-head coach Mike Traphagen. "We are making progress, both individually and team-wise, but we are anxious for better weather and look forward to a good season with these kids."

Worthington graduated seven key performers off of last year's girls' team, including its two leading scorers -- Ashley Aggen (state meet qualifier

in the 100 meter high hurdles) and sprinter-jumper Suze Peters. But nine of the top 15 scorers are back, giving the Trojans lots of reasons for optimism.


The Trojan boys graduated five lettermen from the 2007 squad, but return their three top scorers (Travis Pedersen, Adou Omot and John Mead) and have six of last season's top nine point-producers performing this spring.

Here is a look at the individuals that are likely to contribute to the Trojans success in 2008.

Girls have solid depth

Seniors Jenny Mammen, Jenna Donkersloot and Jessica Donkersloot lead a list of 11 veterans for the Worthington girls, that also have three experienced juniors, a trio of veteran sophomores and two returning freshmen letterwinners.

"We have experience in several events and should be competitive in most of them," Traphagen said. "Overall, we have good depth and balance among our girls."

Mammen is a sprinter and hurdler, while the Donkersloot twins have both whirled the discus over 100 feet. Jenna Donkersloot placed third in the shot put at last year's Southwest Conference meet with a fine mark of 37-3.

Pole vaulter Anneli Dudley, also placed third in her event at the conference meet, and -- along with middle distance runners Sarah Suby and June Amundson -- leads the junior letterwinners. Suby ran on last year's conference second place 4 x 800 meter relay team.

Sophomore distance runner Kaitlin Gerber is coming off a stellar cross country season (state meet qualifier) after having run best times of 2:33 (800), 5:30.8 (1,600) and 11:59.8 (3,200) last spring.


Rachel Malmgren, a sophomore sprinter and high jumper, who also ran on the conference second place 4 x 800 team last season, brings good versatility to the Trojan line-up, as does sophomore sprinter Kayla Vander Veen, who also long jumps and ran on that conference second place 4 x 800 in 2007.

Freshman Sarah Cham was the conference champion in the triple jump (35-6) last spring as an eighth grader. She is also a top-notch sprinter, as evidenced by a 63-second quarter (400 meters) in 2007, and will also compete as a hurdler this season. Cham is off to a great start in '08, having captured four first-place finishes in Worthington's two indoor meets.

Freshman Ellen Dudley lettered as a pole vaulter last spring, and along with her sister, will give the Trojans a solid one-two punch in that event.

Several other girls that are already contributing for Worthington this season, include senior hurdler-sprinter Alyssa Smith, junior sprinter Holli Aggen, freshman middle distance runner Samantha Thuringer, freshman sprinter-long jumper Chelsea Schmitz and freshman long jumper-hurdler Cassie Landgaard. Smith, who along with Aggen is running on the Trojan sprint relay teams, also competes in the shot put.

Annelli Dudley, Gerber, Malmgren, Mammen, Jenna Donkersloot and Vander Veen were Worthington's fourth through ninth highest scorers, respectively, in 2007.

Mammen returns to help boys

While Pedersen, Omot and Mead each had great seasons last year -- and are looking strong again this spring -- the Trojans are also bolstered by the return of senior Tom Mammen, who lettered in 2005 as a freshman, but was unable to compete the past two seasons because of injuries.

A sprinter and long jumper, Mammen has already made his presence felt this year, as he has performed very well in both of Worthington's indoor meets, winning three individual events and being part of a pair of relay victories. Mammen sailed an impressive 20-4 in the long jump at Mankato and has run strong leadoff legs on the Trojan 4 x 400 meter relay team, which won that event at both meets, clocking impressive early season times of 3:40.0 and 3:37.9, respectively.


Mead, Omot and Pedersen toted the baton for the final three legs of those two winning mile relay teams.

"That's one of our strengths," says Traphagen about the Trojan quartet. "We have four guys that can run strong quarters and we think that this group will improve as the season progresses because each of them knows how to compete."

Pedersen, who anchors that relay, was WHS's leading scorer last spring with an impressive set of credentials as a sprinter and as the conference champion in the triple jump (42-10). A senior this year, he was a member of both the conference champion 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relay teams in '07 and he clocked impressive times of 22.88 and 50.99, while finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the 200 and 400 meter dashes at the Section 2AA meet.

So far this season, Pedersen has run a 53.8 quarter and had a leap of 42-1 in the triple jump.

Omot, a junior, was the Trojans' second leading scorer in '07 and this year the all-around athlete has already clocked times of 2:09.3 and 2:08.0 in the 800 meter run. Omot was the conference champion in that event last spring and also ran on the Trojan first place (conference) 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relay teams. He leaped 40-7 in the triple jump and ran a sizzling 51.6 quarter last season.

Mead had a solid football campaign for the Trojans last fall and returns to the track after being Worthington's third best scorer last spring. He also ran on both conference championship relay teams in '07 and placed fourth (conference) in the long jump, leaping 18-9.

Joining those top four, as returning WHS letterwinners are seniors Steve Skog (thrower, 37-2 shot put, 120-0 discus), Tim Zaske (distance runner, member of conference third place 4 x 800 team), Adam Ebbers (sprinter), Ryan Landberg (sprinter) and Aaron Schultz (sprinter, conference third place triple jump 38-8).

Schultz, Landberg and Ebbers will all run on the Trojan 4 x 100 relay team, along with junior sprinter Casey Vis.


Sophomore middle distance runner Jesse Canales, who lettered as an eighth-grader in 2006, is looking to contribute to the 4 x 800 this season.

Among the other returning WHS veterans are Jake Steffl (junior, thrower), Joe Dickey (junior, pole vaulter), Dustin Britten (sophomore, hurdler), Ian Krekelberg (sophomore, hurdler-long jumper), Jesse Regalado (sophomore, pole vaulter) and Brandon Berger (freshman, hurdler).

Britten was ninth in points scored last year.

Two top distance running prospects are sophomore Aaron Grafing, who was the top Trojan cross country runner last fall, and freshman Ian Fleace, who is a consistent, hard-worker.

"We have several very strong individuals, who should place high in most meets," concluded Traphagen about the Trojan boys. "We are looking to develop some depth and put some competitive relay teams on the track."

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