Track and field athletes prepare for opening day

During Thursday’s track practice, Ryker Melton hands the baton to Treyvn Nave while working on relay exchanges for the 400-meter relay.      Photo by Doreen Heintz

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

Head Coach Steve Olson welcomed over 50 athletes to the first day of track and field practice on Monday, March 13.
“We have dropped a few since opening day, but still have 48 athletes competing at the present time,” said Olson. “With a total of 17 different events for track and field athletes to compete in, usually everyone can find a niche where they can have some success. They might just have to be willing to work hard at it.”
A total of 13 seniors are on the current roster. They include Jordan Borgens, Sam Butcher, Haiden Collins, Luke Derheim, Drake Henson, Jason Kaufman, Kai Krumweide, Sheanna Larson, Kaitlyn Lodahl, Melissa Mueller, Siri Peterson, Jozee Plouffe and Madison Rodgers. 
In order to cover the events, Olson has a strong contingent of assistant coaches to help him. Olson coaches the jumping events, as well as the relay teams. Coaching the sprints and the hurdle races is Jim Cecrle. Vic Feller coaches the three throwing events and has also taken on the responsibility to coach the pole vaulters this year. The distance races are coached by Suzy Flentie. Mike Hamling is serving as a volunteer assistant throwing coach this year, while Banner Hecht is helping as a volunteer wherever he is needed.
Olson looks for Collins to take off from where he ended last year. The key for Collins may be to avoid the injury bug. Last season he was injured for about the first half of the season, but recovered to have great meets at the divisional and state level. Collins won the 300-meter hurdles at state in a photo finish. He was second in the 110-meter high hurdles. Collins did not place in the 100-meter dash, finishing tied for seventh place. Although he qualified for the finals of the 200-meters at state, he did not run in the finals in order to save himself for the 1,600-meter relay team, which went on to finish fourth. Olson thinks Collins may be capable of winning at least three events at the state meet this year.
Olson looks for Butcher to be strong in the discus and shot put for the Golden Eagles this year. Henson, Krumweide, Rodgers, and Lodahl, along with junior Noah Majerus, should score points in the distance races at the superdivisional (Eastern A and Central A) and, hopefully, at the state meet.
Last year the Fergus girls’ team finished second at the superdivisional meet held in Laurel, but will be hard pressed to be as strong this year. With the graduation of multi-talented Jaree Mane, Olson will need to find other athletes to fill the void. One girl athlete who has the potential is junior Marissa James. James won the 100-meter hurdles and took second in the high jump at the divisional meet. She now needs to take the next step to place at state.
Another strong competitor for the girls’ team is sophomore Anna Zimmer. Zimmer improved in the shot put and discus in almost every meet she competed at last spring. She also competed during the summer and continued to show improvement. Last year at the divisional meet Zimmer finished third in the shot put. She went on to place fifth in the event at state.
Junior Matthew Welsh could provide points for the boys’ squad, but he will have to heal up quickly from a broken foot. Junior Bridger Grover will also be absent from the boys’ team this year as he recovers from ACL knee surgery. Olson said Grover is helping out wherever he is needed. Other junior boys include Wyatt Blythe and Alex Wickens. Kaitlyn Anderson, Courtney Brand, Bailey Collins and Ivy Southworth are other junior girls competitors.
The track and field teams begin the 2017 season at home at the Central Montana Invite being held today (Saturday) at Golden Eagle Stadium. Field events begin at 10 a.m., with track events beginning at 10:30 a.m. Next week the track teams travel to Havre for an invitational.

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