More experience has EHS track teams looking forward to seasonEllsworth High School's youthful track and field teams of a year ago have grown up and has the Panthers cautiously optimistic for a pair of good seasons.
Ellsworth High School's youthful track and field teams of a year ago have grown up and has the Panthers cautiously optimistic for a pair of good seasons.
"This has the potential to be an extremely exciting year for the boys’ track program. We have a nice mix of experience returning and young newcomers this year," new EHS boys' track coach Rich Powers said.
The EHS boys team has 10 returning lettermen from a squad which finished third in the Middle Border Conference meet and fourth in the regional. Their only graduated seniors were Ian Berg and William Pederson.
The Panthers return sectional champion and state qualifier Alex Campbell in the jumping events along with fellow junior Logan Blodgett in the throws, sophomore hurdler and sectional qualifier Brett Freier and senior pole vaulters Matt Solyntjes and Sam Mahaffey, distance runners Matt Priest, Ike Taplin, and MBC mile run champ Jaylen Pavloski along with senior athletes Jackson Bartlett, Cody Laskaris and Shane Smith.
"We have Alex Campbell returning who was our only state participant last year for boys, who will continue to improve," Powers said. "We also have a nice core of sprinters who look to improve our sprint relays and individuals sprinting events. Our throwers will be tough this year as they dedicated their off season to the weight room and that will show in their performances this year. I strongly believe this crew of fine young men can make a run at the conference title this year. Its going to be an exciting year."
Ellsworth's girls team had just a few losses as well but they were significant ones as one the school's best all-around female athletes, Shannon Campbell, graduated and state runner-up thrower Abbey Ristow, is still recovering from a knee injury suffered during basketball season.
But the Purple have back 13 letter winners starting with MBC and regional champion Lydia Kuhl in the hurdle events and jumps along with fellow seniors Amy Rinke in throws and middle distance runners Stephanie Deiss and Bethany Olson. The Panthers have all their distance runners back in juniors Kennedy Kowalchyk, Becca Matzek and Cassie Lofgren and the team returns quality sprinters in sophomores Tacia Kuhl, Olivia Helmer and junior Maddie Gardas. Also back is junior pole vaulter and sectional qualifier Michaela DeGross.
"Our sprinters have shown us right away they're going to be more competitive," EHS girls' head coach Craig Olson said. "They took the top three spots in the 200 at the indoor meet in Winona. I think Olivia is just a step away from matching Carlie Melstrom's times in the sprints. Lydia is doing very well in practice so far and has colleges inquiring about her."
Olson said the Panthers have a solid group of long distance runners and is looking at Tacia Kuhl and sophomore Payton Bjorkman to fill the middle distance spots
"Developing depth and getting multiple place winners will be our challenge for this season," Olson said. "I think we're competitive with the Osceolas and New Richmonds with for those top three or four places but they win because they can place not just one but two or even three persons in an event and we have to be able to do the same. So far I've seen a lot to be encouraged about."
Ellsworth's boys won the Prescott Invitational and the girls were second last Tuesday. Their next meet in at Osceola this upcoming Tuesday.