Tigers return state meet experience
By Jay Davis
After chalking up 46 points and taking fourth in state, the Tiger track team is back with a strong roster, including seven participants from last year’s state meet. While the Lady Tigers did not rack up such a significant point total last spring, they did take a lot of girls and have 10 back with state meet experience.
“We have a lot of high hopes,” said first-year head coach Marty Looyenga. “Ultimately it’s up to the kids. They have to decide how good they want to be.”
The Tigers start with two returning members of the 2012 state champion 1600-meter relay team.
Senior Cody Schaefbauer ran on last spring’s state-winning team along with running on the second-place 800-meter relay and the fourth-place sprint medley relay team.
Junior Austin Borah was a member of the 1600 and 800 teams, along with taking eighth in state in the 100-meter dash.
After serving up the second longest discus throw in state history, senior Daniel Roberts returns looking for shots at state titles in the discus and the shot put. Roberts finished second in the discus and third in the shot put in Rapid City last spring.
Junior Jason Hill and sophomore Mason Keller earned medals as part of the sprint medley relay team.
The Tigers can add senior Cody Hanson and junior Conner Stoick as two more runners with state experience. Hanson ran on the 3200-meter team and Stoick on the 400-meter team. Add a healthy Mitch Heumiller to the mix and the Tigers have a lot of speed and strength at the top of their lineup.
While last year’s teams excelled in relays, Looyenga would like to see this year’s team specialize a little more.
“I would like to see us step up and see a few more kids place in individual events,” said Looyenga, adding that kids putting up points in two or three individual events more than makes up for four kids combining to win earn points in a relay.
Also on the roster for the Tigers are seniors Kyle Dembeck, Stephen Gemar and Daniel Hintz, sophomores David Beadle, Kenny Helm, Justin Nobles and Reece Wientjes, and freshmen Jacob Bleyle, Quenten Fish, Trent Hammer, Tyler Larson, Riley Schott and Nathan Thompson.
Junior Steph Gemar, like Tiger counterpart Roberts, is looking to find the top of the podium after taking second in state in the discus last year. Gemar is the only returning Lady Tiger who placed at state last year, but far from the only one who competed in Rapid City.
The Lady Tigers are nine deep in kids who vied at state last spring, including senior Callie Slater, juniors Keshia Milliken and Ashton Wiederholt, sophomores Brandi Martian, Rebecca Martin and Maranda Wagner, and freshmen Cassi Heumiller and Alexa Schaefbauer.
The Lady Tigers can add a lot of depth with senior Tabitha Reule, juniors Mary Martin, Jo’L Pretends Eagle and Ellie Rabenberg, sophomores Keely Moriarity, Kara Schneider and Kayla Schneider, and freshmen Madyson Aberle, ReAnne Kohlus, Madison Rau, Alli Sauer, Lacy Steiger, Kylee Wagner and Tara Whalen.
“I’m really pumped for the girls,” said Looyenga. “We have a full squad.”
While it is his first year as head coach, Looyenga is no strangers to Tiger track. He had been an assistant for the last six years.
Those working with him are pretty new to the program. Along with veteran assistant Troy Stenberg, Looyenga has rookie coaches Shalena Meyer, Jennifer Enos and Nathan Lamb on his staff. Of course, Lamb and the throwers are all acquainted from the coach’s first year as head football coach. Meyer and Enos both come with college track experience. Looyenga has already found his coaches to be excellent additions to the team.
“I think it’s going to be a good year,” said Looyenga. “We have a lot of kids out, and we have a lot of young kids, which is nice to see.”
The Tigers will find out quickly how they stack up as a 17-team meet is on hand for tomorrow at Tiger Stadium. The Early Bird Meet starts at 10 a.m. with field events. Running events start at 11 a.m.