ML-WR, Esko move on to stateJosh Cisar isn’t your prototypical track athlete. Standing 6-foot-2, weighing 190 pounds and built primarily of muscle, the steady Moose Lake senior speedster is freakishly fast, yet superbly strong on the oval. To top that, he’s a rookie at the sport.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Josh Cisar isn’t your prototypical track athlete. Standing 6-foot-2, weighing 190 pounds and built primarily of muscle, the steady Moose Lake senior speedster is freakishly fast, yet superbly strong on the oval.
To top that, he’s a rookie at the sport.
While a standout in football and hockey, Cisar has been just as dominant on the track and field surface this spring, carrying Moose Lake-Willow River to the boys team title with 87.5 points to edge Polar League rival Esko at last Friday’s Section 7A meet at Malosky Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“Honestly, I don’t really like to run that much,” said Cisar, who rushed for over 1,000 yards during a Prep Bowl football season last fall and scored over 90 points for the Rebels boys hockey team over the winter. “I just decided to join track because my friends were doing it. It was a great decision. It’s been a blast all year long.”
Perhaps that’s because, along with leading ML-WR to a state berth last week, Cisar aided the Rebels in setting school records in the 800- and 1,600-meter relays. He also won the 400-meter dash in a blazing 49.87 seconds, remaining unbeaten on the season.
“Running has never been a Cisar thing,” Josh admitted Tuesday night, “[but] I believe my grandpa used to run track. He was pretty good, I think.”
Cisar said Rebels Coach Tony Andres had approached him last season to join track, but he didn’t make his final decision until football teammates Jake Disterhaupt and Chris and Michael Gassert signed up.
“He’s definitely a coach’s dream,” said Andres of Cisar, who runs sprints, relays, and has also competed in the shot put and triple jump this spring. “He’s very athletic, but he’s always trying to get stronger and faster, too. He’s in the weight room all of time.”
Fellow football teammate and third-year varsity track mid-distance runner Ben Moonen has liked the addition of the gridiron guys. The junior said that with the football players’ help, things have been brighter for the Rebels this year.
“Without them, I’d doubt we’d be where we’re at,” said Moonen, who set a school-best 1:58.38 last week in defending his 800 title from 2011. “They have definitely brought a lot of good to the track team.”
“A lot of people in our school are football players,” said Andres, who is an assistant football coach. “All are natural three-sport athletes. Things are coming together for us in track. Our guys are peaking and running their best times at the right time.”
In addition to Cisar and Moonen, Disterhaupt and junior Michael Pender also qualified individually for this weekend’s state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. Disterhaupt took home the 200-meter victory, while Pender won the 110 hurdles by a blink. All four played football last season.
“Those guys have learned track in a hurry,” said Tim Lindquist, Esko girls track coach. “They’ve been strong all year long.”
Esko girls win
The Eskomos again cruised to last week’s girls prize, as their juggernaut program captured their seventh consecutive section title in recent history. Esko scored 124.5 points, more than 50 over runner-up International Falls.
“That’s pretty unprecedented. I know there have been some good teams, but I don’t know how many teams have done that,” Lindquist said. “We have flexible girls who can go from sprints to distance and even field events.”
Erika Shady might best portray that versatility, as the 5-foot-5, 102-pound sophomore helped the Eskomos win the 400-, 800- and place runner-up in the 3,200-meter relays, while she pole vaulted a meet-best nine feet, six inches.
“I’ve even long jumped 14-feet once before, too,” she said with a laugh.
Shady said she has been pole vaulting for four years on varsity now.
“When I started in seventh grade I was scared at first, but I’ve gotten used to it and it’s really fun,” said Shady, who jumped a foot higher than anyone last week. “My best is 9-6. I’ve done it a couple times. I’m hoping for 10 feet at state. I hope to place.”
Caitlin Lilly was a pole vaulter until she fell in love with the hurdles. The Esko senior, who will play college soccer at Winona State University next fall, won the 300 hurdles for a second straight year with an identical time of 47.20. She assisted Esko’s winning 800- and 1,600-meter relay squads. All four of Esko’s relays are state bound.
Other Esko girls heading to state in individual events include: Dallas Cossalter (100-meter dash), Kailee Kiminski (1,600 run) and Megan Bergstedt (triple jump). The Esko boys placed runners-up to the Rebels with state qualifiers in Riley Mudek (400 dash), Jacob Tucker (110 hurdles), Ben Bisel (high jump) and Max Reinertsen (long jump and triple jump).
“State can get pretty intense, so we always have people ready to go,” said Lilly confidently. “I think this year we have the most depth ever. We’re just very fortunate.”