By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Anchored by a solid junior class, the 2013 Longhorn boys’ track team boasts 31 members this year and is ready for its opening meet of the season Saturday.
The team opens its season at the Cambridge Invitational, which has a 9 a.m. MT start.
Cambridge has a different meet schedule. There are no preliminaries; all running events are finals against time, while the field event athletes have four attempts.
With 31 on this year’s team, that’s half a dozen more than last season for Head Coach Carl Zuege, who is taking on the boys’ head coaching duties for the first time after being an assistant coach many years. He replaces Marc Mroczek, last year’s head coach who left for North Platte High School.
Zuege appears ready for his team to face some competition to see where they stand. He sees the team’s depth this season as a real asset.
“That’s the highest number we’ve seen on the boys’ team in awhile,” Zuege said.
“I attribute a lot of that to the junior class who have stayed with the track program and have improved each year,” he said.
But, a senior class of five also brings forth a lot of experience, the coach said. There is a good group of eight sophomores and a first-year class of five freshmen, as well.
One of the team strengths will be its 1600 meter relay team, which qualified for state last year and all four runners on the 2012 team—Trey Milner, Dan Sullivan, David Almanza and Kale Gockley—are returners.
“We have six or seven battling for spots on this year’s (1600 relay) team,” Zuege said.
From those 400 relay hopefuls are athletes who will be able to fill a lot of other spots and score points for the team, as well, he said.
One other returner this season also went to state last year, Kevin German in the 300 meter hurdles. Sullivan also qualified individually in the 800.
Experience will also show up in the weights this year, Zuege said, with returners Brian Bell, Justus Wallin and Justin German scoring a lot of points last season.
Areas that will need some development this season include the sprints, 400 meter relay, high hurdles and pole vault.
The Longhorns didn’t score a lot of points in the jumps last year, but Zuege feels they will be more competitive this season.
Some of the younger team members have moved into the jumping events, and some of the veteran athletes are trying those events this season, as well.
“There are a lot of guys ready to score some points” in those events, he said.
The weather has cooperated most days. Zuege said the team has been able to be outdoors every day since practice started.
The team has a few new assistant coaches this season. Troy Hauxwell, the school’s A.D., is coaching the high jumpers, while his wife Mercedes is working with the long and triple jumpers. Bob Holman is handling the boys’ sprinters, hurdlers and relays. The other assistants returning include Chris Sander, pole vault, and Dan Lenners, throwers.
Zuege, in addition to the head coaching responsibilities, also coaches the boys and girls middle and long distance runners.
Al Zuege, who heads the girls’ team, also coaches the girls’ sprinters, hurdlers and relay team members.
Coach Zuege is happy to see that Perkins County in Grant was chosen as site for the C-11 District Meet that includes Chase County. That meet will be held Thursday, May 9, at which athletes will qualify for the state meet.
“That will be good for us. I’m excited about it being so close,” he said.
The Longhorns are in the west district this year, so will face more teams from the Panhandle.
Other teams in the C-11 District are Bayard, Bridgeport, Dundy County/Stratton, Hemingford, Kimball, Morrill and Perkins County.
The rest of the season schedule mirrors last year.
Chase County’s home meet will be held April 16, and the SPVA conference meet will be in Hershey on April 26.
Here is the 2013 boys’ track team roster.
- Seniors—Michael May, Kale Gockley, Justin German, Brian Bell, Josue Guillen.
- Juniors—Korey Krutsinger, Justus Wallin, Trey Milner, Kevin German, Dan Sullivan, Garret Thompson, Andrew Vaverek, Shay Eidson, David Almanza, Luis Rodriguez, Khris Kuhlmann, Adam Crapson, Carson Fanning.
- Sophomores—Kelton Fisher, Holden Dreiling, Isaac Sorensen, Sheldon Bartholomew, Jeff Dickey, Travis Luhrs, Sergio Almanza, Jake Lueth.
- Freshmen—Hunter Dillan, Destyn Milner, Indy Smith, Taylor Wilson, Caleb Bubak.