Numbers are strong for the Winner High School track teams this year.
The WHS boys and girls team competed in Gregory on Monday but will have their first home meet on Saturday, April 1 when they host the Bill Pistulka Invitational. The field events will start at 11 a.m.
Coach Larry Aaker says there are 14 returning letterwinners for the Lady Warriors. They include: Meagan Blare, Katherine Jankauskas, Saige Schuyler, Samantha Schuyler, Alexis Richey, Aryn Meiners, Charlotte Shopene, Janee Gregg, Morgan Hammerbeck, Gabby Kocer, Chloe Bartels, Kyran Meek, Madison Thieman and Tedra Vrbka.
There are three seniors: Chloe Bartels, Sam Schuyler and Kyran Meek.
Lost from last year’s team are Hayley Halverson and Calah Covey.
Last year at the state track meet the Lady Warriors took 8th place in the medley. Runners were Halverson, Sam Schuyler, Richey and Bartels.
Aaker says of the 14 letterwinners most of them competed at state last year.
Bartels and Sam Schuyler are middle distance runners and Meek will throw the shot put and discus.
“Our strength will be in the middle distance,” said the coach.
He hopes the younger girls can come around and help the team. Hurdlers are Vrbka and Hammerbeck. Hammerbeck qualified for state in the hurdles.
Also in the field events, Hammerbeck qualified for state in the long jump.
Gregg as an 8th grader last year qualified in the discus. “Hopefully she can keep improving,” said Aaker.
Added to the team this year will be 7th grader Sidda Schuyler as a long distance runner along with Aryn Meiners.
“We look for big things from both Sidda and Aryn,” said Aaker.
Also middle schoolers Blare and Jankauskas both qualified for state a year ago.
Aaker says goals for the girls are to win both conference titles (Big Dakota and SESD) and repeat as regional champions.
In practice, the coach says the team has been fighting the weather which has forced them inside more than they have liked. The distance runners have been putting on miles.
On the Winner boys side there are 15 lettermen. They include: Isaac Naasz, John Kludt, Tre Doren, Luke Engel, Phillip Jorgensen, Brady Fritz, Drew DeMers, Riley Calhoon, Izak Moleterno, Casey Stickland, A. J. Roubideaux, Colton Schroeder, Kaleb Brozik, Jayden Schroeder and Cameron Kuil.
There are 10 seniors on this year’s team.
The only loss from a year ago was Jonas Brill, a foreign exchange student from Germany.
Last year at the state track meet Kuil received four medals and is the defending 400 meter champion. He was second in the 200and third in the 100.
The medley relay team took second with runners Calhoon, Kuil, Engel and Kayleb Brozik.
Aaker says senior Brozik is a good half miler and qualified for the open 800 a year ago but did not run the open event at state to put all his energy into helping the Warriors get a second place finish in the medley.
The Warriors have so much depth in the shot put and discus. Jayden Schroeder, John Kludt and Tre Doren all qualified for state. Throw in Krockett Krolikowski, a SDSU football recruit, who will be tossing around the weights this year.
Younger throwers are Levi McClanahan and A. J. Roubideaux. “They push each other in practice,” said Aaker.
A new comer this year is senior Trace Larson who will also compete in shot put and discus and may long jump.
Junior Calhoon is a strong runner and helped the team a year ago in the medley. He will also run the 4×200 and the 4×400.
Brady Fritz will help the team in field events and sprints. Last year he qualified for state in the long jump and triple jump.
Atlas Willuweit will be an addition to the team as he will be a sprinter and will run the 100, 200 and 400 and be in some relays.
Joren Bruun will be on the team and will help the Warriors in relays.
Kade Watson, a 7th grader, will help in distance races.
Like the girls, the goals for the boys are to win both conferences, repeat as regional champs. And in addition, Aaker would like to see the Warriors be in the top four at state meet. “We have the pieces to do it this year,” he said.
Assistant coaches are Glenn Carlson, Jaime Keiser, Brett Gardner, Lindsey Foster, Robin Curtis and Jayd Schuyler.
The 2017 track schedule includes:
April 1—Bill Pistulka Invitational in Winner
April 6—Todd County Invitational
April 11—Miller Quad
April 13—Corn Palace Relays in Mitchell
April 18—Big Dakota Conference meet in Winner
April 21—Pierre Invitational
April 27–Cecil Johnson Invitational in Presho
May 2—Meet of Legends in Burke
May 5-6—Howard Wood Relays in Sioux Falls
May 9—SESD Conference meet in Mt. Vernon
May 18—Region at Martin
May 26—State meet at Tea
May 27—State meet at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls