By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Two-thirds of his team are in the freshman and sophomore classes, so Head Boys’ Track Coach Carl Zuege says they’ll be “really young this year.”
Six of the 10 athletes who were state qualifiers last year graduated, but four are back, all who are expected to help guide the Longhorns to another successful track season.
In all, the boys’ team lost 12 seniors to graduation, but Coach Zuege likes the strong numbers he has out again this season.
The 35 on this year’s roster are very close to last year’s 36 team members.
“We lost a lot of good seniors who scored a lot of points, but it’s also an opportunity for other kids to step up” this season, he said.
Those athletes will get their first chance today (Thursday) when Chase County opens its season at a quadrangular meet in Grant hosted by Perkins County.
Zuege likes the change to the quad meet versus Cambridge because it will allow the athletes to compete without a lot of pressure. And, it’s a lot closer.
He’s looking forward to some competition and seeing where the team’s times and marks are.
In his third season as head coach, Zuege’s teams won the SPVA and district meets the last two years, as well as four of its Invitationals last year.
He acknowledges it may be tough to repeat as SPVA champions, and the district meet will be very tough competition, too, pointing out the quality Hemingford athletes.
The distance races, including the 3200 relay, will be strong events for his team this season, Zuege believes.
Indy Smith and Holden Dreiling, half of last year’s fourth place state 3200 relay team, are back. All of last year’s state-qualifying 1600 meter relay team graduated.
Other returning state qualifiers include Travis Luhrs, who tied for sixth in the high jump, and Destyn Milner in the pole vault.
Dreiling and Smith were also individual state distance race qualifiers last season, and should score points in those events this year, too, he said.
In fact, all of this year’s Chase County cross country team, which placed fifth at state, are out for track. That includes senior Ryan Moline, last fall’s district cross country champion, who golfed the last three years.
While they lost a top thrower in Justus Wallin to graduation, Zuege said there’s a nice group of throwers returning including Isaac Sorensen, and some younger athletes he expects to be in the mix. Kelton Fisher is developing as a thrower, he said, after moving to those events from the hurdles due to shin splints.
Zuege is seeing a lot of speed in the younger classes, so is hopeful about the sprints and jumps. But, the team took a big hit when sophomore Cody Williams suffered major shoulder injuries while skiing.
“He was posed to score a lot of points for us” in the jumps and hurdles, Zuege said.
It’s another chance for others to step up, he said.
Two others, Dakota Wallin and Hunter Dillan, will be back for practice in a couple of weeks after recovering from injuries/surgery, as well.
The pole vault should be strong with returning district champion Milner. Senior Jake Lueth, also a vaulter, returns to the team after attending Wray High School last track season, Zuege noted.
Great weather has aided the progress at practice, Zuege said. The athletes have been good at making up the time missed for other activities, he added.
“This Thursday should give us a good gauge of where we’re at,” he said.
Here is the roster of track athletes for the 2015 season.
Seniors—Kelton Fisher, Travis Luhrs, Jeff Dickey, Ryan Moline, Jake Lueth, Isaac Sorensen, Sheldon Bartholomew, Holden Dreiling, Stephen Welsh.
Juniors—Destyn Milner, Indy Smith, Hunter Dillan.
Sophomores—Ike Maxwell, Dakota Wallin, Trace Helser, Tagan Mays, Bryson Fisher, Zac Space, Hunter Bartels, Roper Cochran, Adam Burpo, Cody Williams.
Freshmen—Jack Bauerle, Will Kuenne, Caleb Weiss, Bryce Zuege, Caine Haarberg, Juan Venegas, Francisco Barrientos, Jayden German, Noah Griffin, Jorge Cervantes, Blake Schilke, Kass Cochran, Eli Hinojosa.