Wittinger seeks trip to third state meet in hurdles
by DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Delano will field track teams with both great overall depth and with some standout individuals who will challenge for high honors this season.
Sophomore Alex Wittinger has been well established as one of the top girl hurdlers in the state. She captured section crowns in both hurdle events the past two years, placing sixth at state last season in the 300-meter hurdles.
Another standout individual for the girls is senior Andrea Shrode, who will challenge for honors in several events. At the recent league indoor meet she placed third in the long jump, fifth in the hurdles and sixth in the shot put. And then she won the discus event at the Belle Plaine outdoor meet. Shrode is used to multi-tasking as a Tiger gymnast who placed in the all-around competition at state.
It looks like another young talent is emerging for Delano. Eighth-grader Katelyn Elstad captured first place in the 400-meter run at the conference indoor meet. She also was second at a bigger outdoor meet in Belle Plaine.
The Tiger boys team has also been proven to be highly competitive, last year winning the first True Team section title in school history and advancing to state.
“We have a strong core of athletes returning that have a nice combination of experience and leadership, beginning with our group of seniors,” said boys coach Mitch Rue. “There are some athletes new to track and field that will really help out the team and compete for spots in our championship meets.”
Delano did not claim many individual first place awards at last year’s Section 4AA True Team meet. The title was won with team depth that stood out the most on the relay teams where Delano won the 4×100 and took second in both the 4×400 and 4×800 events. Many of the runners on the relay teams return.
The Wright County Conference meet may be tougher than the section meet with the likes of Hutchinson, Glencoe-Silver Lake, Orono, Annandale and Holy Family. Section powers include Chaska, Richfield, Orono, Holy Family and Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Last season the Tiger boys placed eighth in the conference and first in the True Team section.
The boys have talented athletes retuning in several track events. Some other talented junior athletes came over from other sports. Wrestler Austin Green will work in the pole vault and run in middle distance events. Adam Kraft, a starter in football, switched from playing on the varsity baseball team to compete in sprint and jumping events. Chet Halonen, a hockey player, will run in middle distance events.
Senior Zach Checkal went out for track for the first time last year. He recently led his boys basketball team to the state tournament and was a three-year starter in football.
Other senior leaders will be Robbie Glavas (hurdles, mid-distance), Jacob Hoen (mid-distance), Nathaniel Hood (sprints and triple jump), Aaron Klaers (sprints and throws), Mikey Pool (hurdles and mid-distance), Trevor Reed (mid-distance), Ben Stoddard (throws) and Dennis Troussov (sprints and jumps).
Top juniors back from last year are Ryan Doherty (throws), Justin Elstad (sprints and jumps), Hunter Glasrud (hurdles and mid-distance), Brannon Imamura (pole vault), Ben Jacobs (throws), Ryan Kurtz (distance), Seth Norling (sprints, mid-distance and jumps), Max Ramstad (sprints and triple jump), Wyatt Russek (throws) and Sam Thomas (distance).
Experienced sophomores are paced by distance runners Adam Armbruster, Mike Bunker and Dan Clark, who also is a pole vaulter. Other sophomores back are Andrew Dalbec (mid-distance), Matt Ditty (hurdles, mid-distance), Sam Haley (pole vault and sprints), Ben LaQua (pole vault and sprints) and Cole Paskach (mid-distance and pole vault).
Rue says newcomers with promise include sophomores Jason Cowette (mid-distance), Matthias Ewald (mid-distance) and Tyler Conard (throws). Add to the mix ninth-graders Michael Dahl (mid-distance) and Chris Stone (sprints and jumps).
The Tiger girls are led by senior captains Shrode (throws, long jump and hurdles), Ashley Simenson (distance), Tia Olstad (sprints and long jump) and Allison Warne (distance).
Other experienced runners returning are senior Sarah Trocke (distance), plus juniors Maureen Booth (distance), Gabby Cordes (pole vault and sprints) and Nicole Bressler (distance). Veteran sophomores include Emily Hartman (distance), Ilsa Stone (sprints) and Amy Lowery (sprints).
Junior Bria Barfnecht, who was strong in the sprints and jumps last season, decided to spend time with other sports and did not come out.
“I think the reason our team is so successful is because of our emphasis of the team aspect at practice and at meets,” said Delano girls head coach Jake Pederson. “This season will be a great opportunity for both our veterans and new athletes to develop into the top level track and field athletes I know they can be.”
The teams opened the season at the Wright County Conference indoor meets. The boys were at St. Michael-Albertville April 1 and the girls competed at Waconia April 2. Both teams moved outside for a meet April 4 at Belle-Plaine when they were not at full strength.
At STMA the boys finished fourth behind Hutchinson, Waconia and Orono. Troussov was second in the 55-meter dash and Elstad was fourth. Jacobs placed fifth and Wyatt Russek sixth in the shot put.
Armbruster won the 1600-meter run while Kraft placed second in the high jump, Haley second in the pole vault, Green sixth in the 400 and Pool was fifth in the 55-meter hurdles.
Outside at Belle Plaine, both teams placed fifth. For the boys, Armbruster topped the field in the 3200 with Sam Thomas third. Kraft was second in the high jump, Elstad second in the 100, Green fifth in the 400, LaQua fifth in pole vault, Troussov fifth in the long jump and Clark placed fourth in the pole vault and fifth in the 1600.
Pool was third in the 110 hurdles and second in the 300 hurdles with Ditty close behind in third. Halonen was sixth in both the 1600 and 800 runs. Jacobs was third and Klaers sixth in the shot put.
The Tiger girls placed fifth at the league indoor. Wittinger took first in the hurdles, Trocke third in the 200, Bressler fifth in the 1600, Linsey Tolkkinen sixth in the 800 and Ellie VanDenEidi was sixth in the long jump.
At Belle Plaine, Wittinger captured first in both hurdle events, plus was third in the open 200. Shrode won the discus and was second in the 100 hurdles. Placing third was Elstad in the 100 and Bressler in the 3200. Madaline Eichers finished fourth in the discus, Tolkkinen sixth in the 3200, Bauman fifth in the shot put and Kristina Tormanen was fifth in the high jump.
Delano has a home meet for boys and girls against Annandale, Dassel-Cokato and New London-Spicer, 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 15. The Delano Invitational meet is set for 4 p.m. April 25.
Contact Dave Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org