by DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Rockford has new boys and girls track coach in Andy Mahler, who comes from Sibley East High School where he served as the assistant cross country and track coach. He was a runner at Wartburg College in Iowa.
Captains are junior Jordan O’Reilly and senior Zach Guthrie for the boys and junior Abby Botten and senior Lydia Buffie for the girls. Assistant coaches are Jason Phillippi, Nick Peterson, Jessica Pierce and Chad Robran.
“We have a close nit group, but we are lacking in numbers,” says Mahler, who is still learning about the level of talent on his teams. If last year is any indication, Mahler will soon discover that a strong nucleus returns.
Rockford runners were within seconds of advancing to the state track meet after sending 10 in 14 events to the Section 5A meet last season.
Junior Jordan Weeding finished 0.1 seconds out of advancing to state by time standard when she placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles.
O’Reilly also came close to advancing to state in the 300 hurdles, falling 1.5 seconds short when he placed fourth. He won first place in the 300 hurdles at the True Team section meet.
The boys 4×400 relay of O’Reilly, Guthrie, junior Sasha Galka and Zach Johnson who graduated, missed going to state by three seconds. Galka finished fourth in the 800 in a very tough field.
Nick Klonne, now a sophomore, ran his personal best in the 1600 to finish seventh at the section meet. Promising young talent include ninth-grader Eik Olson, who has varsity experience, and seventh-grader Logan Henrich.
The girls varsity roster has more seventh-graders (eight) than seniors (four), to go with just five juniors, four sophomores and no ninth-graders, showing how the team may experience some growing pains.
The other senior girls are Jannette Krause, KaLeigh Lentsch-Dwinell and Emily Pothast. Juniors include Mariah Givens, Lindsey Mason and Cally Nielsen. Varsity sophomores are Emily Eberspacher, Marie Jakubowski Eliza Shedlov and Julia Trandahl.
Eighth-graders on varsity are Wendy Carlson, Jessie and Michaela Johnson and Mikayla Odette. The big group of seventh-graders includes Julia Dalluge, Isabella O’Reilly, Claire Patzner, Jordan Richardt, Anna Stecker, Nicole Steenstra and Hailey Ziemer.
The Rocket boys have a bigger and more experienced squad with five seniors, six juniors and 11 sophomores. There are only three ninth-graders to go with five eighth-graders seven seventh-graders.
The other seniors are Pavel Bleckmann, Javier Jacobo, Jack Richardt and Tim Richartz. Juniors are Maxwell Gulsvig, Thomas Hayden, Eric Dahl and Ken Gilb.
High placements in meets will come from the talented sophomore group, many who stood out last year. The group includes Josh DeRoo, Steven Eitel, Drew Haften, Austin Hubbs, Nick Powers, Nathan Schumacher, Josh Shaikoski, Nick VanDanacker, Brannon Winters and Brady Zempel.
Rockford is scheduled to compete at the Princeton Invitational, 4:14 p.m. April 12. A busy next week includes meets at Maple Lake April 15, at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa April 16 and at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted April 18.
Contact Dave Pedersen at email@example.com