Area track teams ready to start
TRACK AND FIELD
Carlton County's track teams are gearing up for the start of their season, with a practice meet held Tuesday night featuring many of the Polar League teams.
In Moose Lake-Willow River, coach Tony Andres and his athletes are coming off a successful season. Fourteen Rebel boys went to sections last season, seven of which were graduated seniors.
Senior Bryceton Butkiewicz leads the sprinters and sprint relays while two-time defending section champion Sam Coil returns to try for state glory and to break the school record in the shot. Fifth as a sophomore and third last year, Coil's top effort of 52 feet, 8 inches is a foot and a half short of the school record.
Junior Ethan Olson qualified for state last spring in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs and was sixth in state in the two-mile run in 9:53:24. His best 1600-meter time is 4:32.74. Both figures are school records.
A total of 45 boys are out for the team including seven seniors. The team does not select captains.
"We should be very balanced again this year," Andres said. "Sam and Ethan lead the way and we have a lot of other athletes to fill other events. Our team goal is to win the Section 7A True Team Meet for the fourth straight year and compete at the State True Team meet."
Senior Conner Radel is a new addition to the team, which has also added juniors Ryan Barrett, Avery Kosloski and Tyler Merkens along with sophomore Aiden Szczyrbak.
On the girls side, five of the six athletes who competed in the section meet last spring return. Sophomore Kennedy Bryant went to sections in the long jump, triple jump, 200 meters and the 4x200 relay and reached state in the long jump for the third straight year last spring despite her age.
Freshman Savannah Gamst (3200 meters), sophomore Sarah Michaels (800 meters), and 4x200 relay runners Skyla Thompson, Lauren Hartman and Kiersten Evenson are all back as well. Sophomores Kennedy Janke and Ellie Anderson will compete in the throwing events this spring.
"We have 34 athletes out for grades 7-12," Andres said. "Girls numbers have increased quite a bit, however many of them are in grades 7-9 and not yet competing at the varsity level."
In Esko, girls coach Scott Arntson has a large group of seniors as part of a large team. Sixty girls in grades 7-12 are out for the team, 10 of which are seniors.
It's a bit of a rebuilding project for Arntson, as only one of those returning athletes, Ava Gonsorowski, reached state last year, doing so in the 100 and 300 hurdles.
"We have a lot of young runners with a mix of seniors," Arntson said. "It will take awhile before we find out where everybody fits in."
Esko boys coach Gary Beaudot has a more experienced team, with 27 seniors and juniors among his total of 36 athletes in grades 9-12.
Gone are seniors Jaxson Turner (4x100 and 4x200 relays at state), Seth Shingledecker (4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays), Trenton Menor (4x800) and Caleb Schillo (4x400).
However, there are plenty of athletes with state experience coming back. Seniors Dawsen Cossalter (100 meters, 4x100 and 4x200 relays) joins fellow seniors Devan Arntson (pole vault), Eric Meysembourg (4x800), Declan Sinnott-James (4x100) and Adam Graves (4x400) as upperclassmen with state meet experience.
Juniors Jedd Anich (4x200 and 4x400) and Tyler Northey (4x800) join sophomore Sam Rengo (4x800) in bolstering the upper class.
Beaudot hopes Esko's traditional strengths serve them well again.
"We are hoping to be strong again in the relays this season," he said. "Dawsen Cossalter is looking to be very competitive in the open sprint events. Last year's returning distance crew is strong with a couple of new faces including (state cross-country qualifier) Josh Kemp."
Beaudot believes that despite the small squad size, depth, especially in the longer races, will still be there.
"With this depth, we hope to fill the distance races better than we have in previous seasons," he said. "Pole vault will be a strong field event for us with returning state qualifier Devan Arntson, and standout junior Tate Olsen."