COLFAX — Although several athletes with state track experience are gone via graduation, both the Colfax boys’ and girls’ track teams have high expectations for the upcoming season. There are 19 boys and 18 girls out as they begin competition at the indoor meet at Menomonie High School April 2.
Under the leadership of fourth year coach Jamie Buchholz, the boys will have to find athletes to replace sprinters such as Hayden Fehr, Greg Christoffel and Dallin Dahnke, all members of relay teams that did pretty well at the state meet last year as well as mid distance runner Matthew Schneider and thrower Ted Marris. They return four runners who were also part of relay teams that competed at the state level however, including seniors Matthew Almquist, Lachlan Hinwood and Garrett Miller along with junior Noah Pretasky. Sophomore Ben Kragness is expected to shore up the throwing events this year after scoring points in that area last season. In addition, there are several freshmen in the mix, some with cross country experience who should help in the distance events.
“With the seniors lost from last season, our focus won’t be so much on relays, but individual events instead,” Buchholz said. “Hopefully, we can spread athletes out a little more and pick up points in several events instead of using four athletes up in one event. That should also help us beef up our field events area including the jumps.”
Elk Mound, Mondovi and St. Croix Central all have good numbers this year and should be the teams to beat in the conference according to Buchholz.
“They are able to cover more events and they have more depth in each of them,” he said. “But we expect to be right up there with them. Our goal is to place in the top three at conference and get as many athletes to the state meet as possible,” he added.
The girls’ team lost Lindsay Jenson, part of a relay team from state competition, Shelby Sikora, a state qualifier in the triple jump and a relay, as well as sectional qualifiers Mikayla Scharlau and Meghan Lieffort. Kenna Breckner, a senior this year who ran on a relay team at state as a junior, is recovering from knee surgery and will miss the season.
Getting a late start due to the number of girls who played basketball, coach Ryan Krall has several of them returning with experience at the state level including senior Hannah Hover in the 200 m dash and a relay team, seniors Ryleigh Prochnow and Brittany Rothbauer on a relay team and sophomore Dannielle Dachel, also a relay team member. Junior Heidi Lieffort, a two time state qualifier in the pole vault and sectional qualifier in the 300 m hurdles also returns as does junior Katy Toycen who was part of a state relay team.
Freshmen expected to contribute are distance runners Dempsey Fogarty and Courtney Dressel who both ran in the state cross country meet last fall.
“Our strengths appear to be in the distance events and a few select areas around the field events including the pole vault,” Krall said. “So many things change over the course of a season so it is really tough to say where our team will be at its best at this point. We have a few huge holes to fill but we will try our best to piece things together as best as we can.”
The season goals are to start with a conference championship then move on to getting kids to qualify for state competition, according to Krall. He believes Spring Valley will be the favorite in the conference after their great cross country season and Mondovi and Elk Mound have huge numbers of good athletes, making them hard to beat. St. Croix Central came on strong last year and Elmwood/Plum City are the defending champions and should be good again this year.
“We are somewhere in the mix,” Krall said. “At what part of the mix I don’t know yet but we will soon find out!”