Posted 4/13/11 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
While most area track fields across the state are still drying out after one of the worst winters on record, Watford City High School’s track teams are chomping at the bit for their season to start.
But while the teams have seen limited time on the track so far this year, that doesn’t mean that the athletes aren’t getting ready for what they hope will be a great season.
“With the moisture in the air and on the ground, we have spent more time inside the school conditioning the athletes,” states Greg Brown, girls’ head coach. “It has hampered our getting ready for the field events as we don’t have the ability to do those type of events inside. So our field event people may be behind, skill-wise, for our first meet, especially for our new seventh graders.”
But according to Brown and David Gumke, boys’ head coach, even though the athletes haven’t been able to work outdoors, the Wolves will be ready to compete when they take to the track for their first meet.
“The older athletes will be ready because they have been drilled in technique every year,” states Brown. “We will catch up quickly with the technique work with the rest of the state.”
And with a solid group of seniors leading this year’s Watford City track teams, the coaches believe that even though the teams have had limited practice time so far this spring, good things are in store for the Wolves.
“The guys have been working hard despite the conditions, mainly because of our senior leadership,” states Gumke. “The seniors, Tyler Flatland, Jason Shipman, Curtis Lohse, Daniel Tank, and Jake Thomas, have a very good work ethic. They are teaching the young kids what it takes to be good track athletes.”
And both coaches are looking for their veteran runners to provide the strong nucleus that will do well at the State Track Meet.
“On the girls’ side, we have State place winners back,” states Brown. “Our mile relay team, which won State last year, returns three of the four runners in Dani Bates, Marti Quale and Kade Ross. And also returning is McKayla Haugeberg, who qualified for State in the pole vault, triple jump, long jump and javelin.”
Haugeberg, who placed at State in the triple jump and javelin last year, is predicted to be one of the top field event athletes at State this year.
Another returner who competed for Brown at State last season is Brianna Allex, who returns with Quale, in the hurdles and relays. Allex also was a state qualifier in the triple jump. Also returning will be Kara Langerud, in relays, and Fallon Fladeland, who qualified in the pole vault.
On the boys’ side, Gumke is looking for another strong finish at State with several key runners returning.
Leading the way for the Wolves’ boys squad will be seniors Tyler Flatland, Jason Shipman and Curtis Lohse.
At State last year, Flatland took second in the 400 meter dash, third in the 300 meter hurdles and was a member of the first place 800 meter relay team and the second place 1,600 meter relay team.
Shipman, at State, took sixth in the 110 meter hurdles, eighth in the 300 meter hurdles and was a member of the first place 800 meter relay team and the fifth place 400 meter relay team.
Lohse, at State, took eighth place in the triple jump and was a member of the second place 1,600 meter relay team.
Also back for the Wolves are sophomores Tyler Bates, Josh Johnson, Cole Rolfsrud and Brice Brenno.
Bates, at State, placed fourth in the 400 meter dash, and was a member of the first place 800 meter relay team, the second place 1,600 meter relay team and the fifth place 400 meter relay team.
Johnson, at State, was a member of the fifth place 400 meter relay team.
Also qualifying for last year’s State meet was Cole Rolfsrud in the 1,600 meter relay team and Brice Brenno with the 400 meter relay team.
Other returners that are expected to help the boys team will be Daniel Tank, senior, throws; Jake Thomas, senior, throws; Michael Schulz, sophomore, throws, jumps, sprints, hurdles; Reid Brown, sophomore, throws, jumps, sprints, hurdles; Dustin Kleppen, freshman, distance; Dillon Smith, freshman, middle distance, sprints.
“We have many promising individuals out for track this year,” states Brown. “We have many girls that I believe will make huge impacts on our varsity team by the end of the season.”
With a strong group of experienced athletes back, both coaches are looking for a strong finish at State.
“The boys team has a goal to finish in the top five at State again this year,” states Gumke. “And are aiming at improving our fourth place finish from last year.”
Likewise, Brown would like to see the girls team also place in the top five at State.
“Our main team goal is to once again win the Region meet and to place in the top five at State,” says Brown. “Both of those goals are difficult to reach, so the girls will have to put in the time and hard work to reach those goals.”
Depending upon the condition of the field, the Wolves will be hosting their first meet of the season on Thursday, April 14.