TRACK PREVIEW: ‘Track’ takes on new meaning for Eskomos
The Eskomos enter this spring's track and field season all smiles, much because they finally have a place to call home. It's shiny, it's new and most of all, it's theirs.
The Eskomos enter this spring’s track and field season all smiles, much because they finally have a place to call home. It’s shiny, it’s new and most of all, it’s theirs.
For years, Esko won race after race and title upon title by simply training inside their high school and on the dirt backroads around their small community. That isn’t the case anymore, because at Esko Stadium - as a pristine facility as you’ll find in this area - anything is possible for the Eskomos and the 32 girls and 35 boys out for the team this pleasant spring.
Although star distance runner Kailee Kiminski will compete on the state-of-the-art, multi-colored track surface at the University of South Alabama next fall in Mobile, Ala., the Esko senior said she’s looking forward to running her final high school season on her team’s own oval.
A state qualifier a season ago in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, as well as the 1,600 relay, Kiminski will do all again this year, while the sixth-year varsity runner may run the 3,200 relay at times, and even asked Coach Scott Arntson to take on the 3,200 run, too.
If she runs all five events on April 14, that will be alright with her. That’s the day the Eskomos will host their first home track meet in ages.
“When I was a seventh, eighth and ninth grade, I didn’t expect us to have a track,” Kiminski said. “And now to see that we’re having some meets and running at our own school is really exciting. Our whole track team is real excited for it. It’ll be a big day. I don’t even know when Esko last hosted.”
Other big contributors on the girls’ end, according to Arntson, will be a handful of athletes, including hurdler Ava Gonsorowski and sprinter Olivia Rengo, while Suntina Spehar and Lexi Smalley will also aid the core of an athletic team.
Traditionally a strong school in the relays, which sent their 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter teams to state last year, Arntson was optimistic about this year’s outlook again.
“We have a pretty diverse group that I think can cover most events well,” Arntson said on the phone Tuesday morning from Texas. “We’re not super deep, but we have a variety.”
As do the boys, who are again coached by Gary Beaudot, who was upbeat before Tuesday morning’s practice.
Although a young team, with just nine upperclassmen, Beaudot’s bunch will be led by junior duo Trenton Menor and Seth Shingledecker, one who helped set the Esko school record in the 800-meter relay a season ago, Beaudot noted.
Despite their youth, Beaudot said their new home helps.
“We have a really nice surface to train on,” said Beaudot, adding that they also host a meet May 2. “It’s incredible. I work with the sprinters and we have been on the track since day one of practice. What difference it really does make.”
Even if there’s a couple more months until college calls.
“I’m just going to enjoy my last year with my teammates,” said Kiminski, before she heads to the Division-I Jaguars. “I’ll enjoy this whole process - on that new track.”
There isn’t a track at Moose Lake-Willow River either, but, according Coach Tony Andres, his 70 kids are looking good, including three-sport athlete Karina Cisar, as well as state returnee Kennedy Bryant - both long jumping talents.
“I think we’re going to be very competitive,” Andres said, noting his two girls may rival each other for state entrances. “Regardless, maybe they’re the top two and both move on.”
Moving along in Culver is South Ridge, which has 40 kids out on top of 40 from their cooperative schools, according to Coach Jeremy Polson. Girls Gracelynn Otis, RyAnna Anvid and boys jumper Jake Carlson are ones to be watched.
“He’s a basketball kind of kid, but is working hard,” said Polson of Carlson. “He had six slam-dunks this past season.”
The season looks bright for Cromwell-Wright too. Coach Dave Foster said 45 kids are out, including Andrea Hakamaki, Rachel Hutar and Bailey Gronner, all back from their 3,200 state relay team. Austin Pfisthner heads the boys.
The Cardinals began their spring break on Wednesday, a day featuring high temperatures in the 60s, when Foster was asked if he’d go golf: “I’d love to.”