By Cara L. Dempski
COLFAX — The Colfax Viking boys’ and girls’ track teams wanted to get a jump on their seasons, so they have already attended one meet.
“We had a nice mix of older and younger kids score for us, which is an encouraging sign as we move forward this season,” head coach Ryan Krall said of the Vikings’ performance at UW – Eau Claire’s Tomahawk Invitational held March 17. “We have the potential to get contributions from many different areas.”
Krall was happy with his team’s performance, and rightly so, after seeing a handful of top-10 performances out of a team that has not yet seen all its components come together so soon after the end of basketball, powerlifting and wrestling seasons. The Colfax coach knows the composition of his team will change with each new competitor, but he does not seem to be complaining.
The Vikings lost a lot of talent with the class of 2016. Salome Boden, Courtney Dressel, Dempsey Fogarty and Marianne Scharlau left the girls’ team, and Kedar Davis, Grady Gibson, Tucker Hovde, Alex Knudson, Isaac Lee, Hunter Lieffort and Jacob Steinke said good bye to the boys’ team.
Krall said Dressel, Fogarty and Scharlau were the three highest-scoring athletes in 2016, and will be nearly impossible to replace. He describes their loss to graduation as a “changing of the guard” for the Viking girls.
The Viking coach also said he will be missing the state experience of five of his seven male graduates from last year. Not all hope is lost for the boys, though, as a group of seven freshman is stepping onto the track.
“Hopefully they can display the same passion and competitiveness as their predecessors,” Krall stated.
On the girls’ team, senior Ally Heidorn returns for her final high school season after suffering what Krall explained was one of the worst injuries he has witnessed as a coach during the 2016 season. Heidorn’s leadership and drive to do what she can to fire her teammates, and herself, up are giving Krall a lot of confidence.
Senior sprinter Bryana Buchanan is someone the Colfax coach is expecting big things from in 2017. She missed out on last year’s state meet, but it described as hungry to get back to it.
“I’d bet on her anytime with a lot of confidence,” Krall said of the runner he hopes will provide leadership and guidance.
Abbagail Schotter, who recently announced she will be joining the cross country team at Southwest Minnesota State University in the fall of 2017 will serve as the senior anchor for the girls’ long-distance runners. Krall is also looking at underclassman Erica Kallstrom to provide some needed experience.
Schotter and Kallstrom were part of 2016’s 3200-meter relay team that broke the conference record, and he is hoping to surround the two runners with enough pieces to make a deeper run into the post season in 2017.
Jacob Larson will run his senior season for the Vikings, and Krall said all the coaches are excited to see him compete this year.
“For years we have asked him to let everything go and take some risks during races to see how far he can really go,” Krall elaborated. “I think he is primed to do just that this season.”
Krall describes Larson as an amazing athlete who will need to be a great leader for the Vikings’ this season. The coach is hoping Larson can finish his high school career on a high note.
Junior Spencer Herrick returns to throwing this season as Colfax’s top competitor. He is coming off a successful powerlifting season during which he qualified for both state and national competition, feats which make Krall’s statement that Herrick has gotten stronger seem like an afterthought.
Herrick’s classmate, Adam Pretasky, is Colfax’s top returning sprinter. The junior was part of the Vikings’ 400-meter relay team that placed fourth at the 2016 state meet.
“Adam is a great kid that wants nothing more than to have a great season for us this year,” Krall said. “His leadership early on this season has gotten us off on the right foot.”
The Vikings are welcoming 15 freshmen athletes this season, eight girls and seven boys. The coaching staff expressed excitement over what the newest athletes can become as they progress through their high school careers.
Krall has marked Jayna Bowe and Morgan Schleusner as two runners to watch. The duo came to the team with high expectations from the coaches and did not disappoint in their first meet at UW – Eau Claire. Bowe placed sixth in long jump in her first outing, and Schleusner took fifth in the 55-meter hurdles.
The Colfax coaches are also expecting big things from Samantha Pretasky, who competed at a high level already in middle school and is expected to translate her success to her high school career.
Other runners and field events competitors hoping to make an impact this season are seniors Matthew Reisdorf, Napoleon Nosker, Rowdy Kadinger and Jezzicka Tweed, juniors Treyton Teige, Jacob Jensen, Mackenzie Jensen and Kayla Whitaker, sophomores Thomas Jensen, Luke Heidorn, Desirae Welk, Trevin Mounce-Hinrichs, Joseph Charlesworth, Brett Foy, Dennan Fogarty, Trevor Rothbauer, Rachel Knutson, Cassidy Reitz and Jeremy Artist, and freshmen Ed Hydukovich, Dalton Schotter, Pierce Harvey, Kali Risler, Morgan Jensen, Ed Doerr, Lilly Sanders, Trey Hovde, Addy Olson and Juelia Berger.
Krall said the boys’ and girls’ teams are similar in that they lost very significant pieces after the 2016 season, and will need increased contributions from everyone in all events to make up for the lost seniors.
“Last year there was a lot more certainty about where kids would fall, which events they would specialize in, and who would be our most likely state qualifiers,” Krall stated. “There are many more unknowns this year.”
The 2017 Viking boys’ and girls’ teams are going to be much younger and more inexperienced. Krall indicated there will be a lot of work to do to return to the state meet with a group the size Colfax fans have become accustomed to.
With 22 girls on this year’s team, Krall believes there will be better event coverage than he has had in the years past. He credits the cross country team with producing solid distance runners from year to year, and he sees his long-distance races as a source of strength for the girls. The main weakness on the female side, according to Krall, will be in field events. That was one area where the 2016 graduates provided a lot of strength.
On the boys’ side, there are 26 competitors, and Krall sees that as a good thing as he tries to fill the seven pairs of shoes vacated by last year’s seniors. The Vikings return only one boys’ runner with state experience in Adam Pretasky, so there will be ample opportunity for younger runners to find their niche in 2017.
Krall sees the Elk Mound boys’ and girls’ teams as being tough to beat again in 2017, based on their numbers and the level of talent. He sees Elmwood/Plum City and Glenwood City as threats on the girls’ side of the conference since both teams return a lot of good competitors.
For the boys’ team, Krall said Elk Mound and Durand are bringing back so many good runners, throwers, and field event competitors that it would be difficult to consider anyone other than them as conference favorites heading into the season.
Head coach Ryan Krall is in his ninth season coaching the Viking track and field teams. He will be assisted this season by Tina Rothbauer (throws), Brittany Rothbauer (distance), Lexi Hennen (jumps), Dannielle Dachel (jumps/distance), Alycia Dickensen (general team assistant) and Jamie Buchholtz.
The Vikings already have one meet under their belts, as mentioned previously, and took a one-week break before heading to UW – Stout for the 2017 Northern Badger Invitational on March 25. Colfax will run again at the April 6 St. Croix Central Invitational and will take a break before hosting its first meet on April 20.
The Colfax boys took fourth place at the 2016 Dunn-St. Croix track meet, and the girls placed fifth.
Seniors: Bryana Buchanan, Ally Heidorn, Abbagail Schotter, Jezzicka Tweed, Desirae Welk, Rowdy Kadinger, Jacob Larson, Michael Lyrek, Napoleon Nosker and Matthew Reisdorf.
Juniors: Caroline Dworak, Mackenzie Jensen, Desiree Matthews, Spencer Herrick, Jacob Jensen, Adam Pretasky and Treyton Teige.
Sophomores: Ariah Kadinger, Erica Kallstrom, Rachel Knutson, Hailey Prince, Cassiedy Reitz, Jeremy Artist, Dennan Fogarty, Brett Foyt, Luke Heidorn, Thomas Jensen, Trevin Mounce-Hinrichs, Zach Paffel, Trevor Rothbauer and Dalton Schotter.
Freshmen: Juelia Berger, Jayna Bowe, Morgan Jensen, Addy Olson, Samantha Pretasky, Kali Risler, Lillian Sanders, Morgan Schleusner, Alexis Snider, Eddie Doerr, Pierce Harvey, Trey Hovde, Ed Hydukovich, Brady Lawrence and Nate Lee.