20 March 2014

Boys Track: A tough act to follow

.Justin Hyytinen qualified for state in three events last year (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Last spring the Tigers  surprised more than a few people with a rash of strong performances in big meets, winning the Missota Conference title and conference relays and finishing runner-up at both the Section 1AA True Team and championship meets.

Coach Brian Helmstetter isn't promising another such run in 2014 but with a large number of contributors returning, he is excited about his team's chances.

"The expectations are high for both coaches and athletes," he said. "There are talented teams around us in both the conference and section that will be tough competition. I expect the returners will continue to improve and have focus, but our newcomers will determine our success."

As has been the case in recent years, the turnout has been massive with a long list of both returnees and newcomers expected to vie for spots in the lineup.

Senior sprinter Mason Auge (photo by Jim Lindquist)
The veterans include a strong senior class of Mason Auge, Sean Dougherty, Jacob Earp, Jack Erickson, Mason Gaylord, Tanner Grubb, Jeff Guitterez, Joe Hoeve, Brendan King, Derek Klotter, Jake Lee, Santana Perdomo, Godfrey Mpetey, Sean McHenry, Josh Patterson, Hunter Sevenich, Jared Wolt, CJ Wynings and Riley Stevenson.

All-Missota Conference sprinter Grubb ran on two relay teams at last year's Class AA state meet . Wolt ran for the Tigers' school record-setting 4x800 relay team at state last spring.

The junior class returns Jake Bauerle, Christian Brollier, Wyatt Ferm, Jacob Gerdes, Garrett Haugen, Zach Herrera, Michael Husnik, Justin Hyytinen, Long Lam, Ryan Parco, Dylan Pitzen, Luis Rodriguez, Nehemiah Rockett, Jake Ropeke, Daniel Som, Tanner Thode and Peyton Woller.

Tanner Grubb ran on two state meet relay teams in 2013 (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Hyytinen, who qualified for the 2013 state meet in three events last spring, is the defending conference 3200-meter champion. Parco also ran at state last year and Rockett was the 2013 conference 300-meter hurdles champion.

Twenty-one sophomores also return from last year's team: Gavin Bassett, Caleb Bray, Jesse Chanthakkoun, Alexander Clements, Andriano DeOliviera, Nino Douanboutdy, Adam Dougherty, Dylan Gerlach, Josh Grimm, Alex Hart, David Husnik, Ryan Newton, Dylan Otterness, Robel Ponds, Kyle Rotvold, Jackson Schneider, Jake Schwartz, Kyle Smith, Dalton States, Matthew Townsend and Devon Webb. 

Webb ran a leg of 4x800 meter relay for the Tigers at last year's Class AA State Championships.

Senior middle distance runner Jared Wolt (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Newcomers expected to make a run at the varsity lineup include juniors Max Aladana, Jonathan Bovee, Robin DeCastro, Jake Gerdes, Dylan Hammerschmidt, Matt Jenny, Zach Teiken, Calvin Vue, Elie Kallerah and Saad Shaikh. sophomores Derek Cole, Cole Dubbels, Zach Rivers-Knutson, Aaron Koenigsberg, Braeden Peterson, Jackson Reed, Matt Rowe, Sam Rutz, Ben Sorenson, Alex Swearingen, Tyler Shafer, Joe Cardinal, Jake Langr and Nazzim Sameron and freshmen Zach Adamson, Bryants Aguilera, Chris Erickson, Keon Gates, Kellen Grundman, David Gutsalayuk, Xander Hall, Zach Johnson, Derek Kulls, Kuruwel Negash, Sam Okikiolu, Matt O'Malley, Miguel Ponce, Zach Redlin, Bryan Scavone, Taylor Tabolich, Jordan Trout and MacCoy Urbia.
Helmstetter said that his team's early strengths should lie in the sprinting, middle distance and throwing events.

"We've improved in the jumps and gotten a year older as well," he said. "We have some vacancies in both hurdle events, high jump, and pole vault. However, we have a lot of newcomers giving those events a try and it will be fun to watch the boys compete for these positions."

The veteran Tiger coach said his team's recipe for success is a simple one.

"Keeping our seniors and juniors healthy and developing our ninth and 10th graders to the point of contributing," he said.

State meet sprinter Ryan Parco (photo by Jim Lindquist)
If the Tigers are to put together another championship season, they will do so against some tough competition, both in the conference and in the section.

Helmstetter said Missota Conference rivals Chaska and Chanhassen both return veteran squads and Lakeville North, Lakeville South and Owatonna all figure to have a say in the race for section honors.

"To repeat in both is absolutely a goal and attainable," he said, "but it won't be handed to us."

Helmstetter will again have a talented and diverse staff of assistants, including girls coach Tom Hart, Lisa and Adam Lippold, Julian Buss, Kelli and Torrion Amie, Henry Schneider, Vicki Lippert, Mallory Skoff and Callie Doffing.