While striving to achieve team success at least two Brainerd Warriors could attain individual milestones during the 2012 season.
Senior hurdler Jackson Walters and senior pole vaulter Josh Murrey appear to have the best opportunities, at least initially, to break school records as Brainerd prepares to open the season Saturday in the Huskie Classic at St. Cloud State.
Walters, who finished fifth in the 110 hurdles in the Class 2A state meet, has a shot to break one of Brainerd’s longest-standing school records. Chuck Miller set the record in 1970 with a time of 14.74. Robin Graham ranks second with a 14.84 clocking hurdled in 1977. Walters, who will also do the 300 hurdles and possibly high jump and a relay, ranks third at 14.98 run last year.
“He’s come in in great shape,” Warriors head coach Rod Reuer said. “He’s strong, very fit-looking, his goal is the school record, get to the state meet, and better his performance from last year. I think he’s a legitimate top three contender in the state.
“He had a great section meet. We didn’t even know if he would make it out of the section. He had an unbelievable section final race to continue on to state, and improved his time there. He’s gained a lot of confidence. He’s coming back to be one of our horses.”
Murrey finished 12th at state and has a personal-best vault of 13-0, which ties him with Kevin Weber and Nick Lesmeister for third in school history. David Beilke set the school record of 13-7 in 2006 and Nick Edwards vaulted 13-6 in 2005.
“Josh really came on at the end of the season,” Reuer said. “He was second in the section. His personal best is 13-0. He went to a good camp over the summer, and had a pretty good camp at the ‘U’. He could be a contender for the section title. He could be a section favorite. His goal is 14-0. He wants to break the 14-foot barrier.”
Others returning with state meet experience include Jacob Goodew in the 4x200 relay that finished 10th in 2A and Grant Reuer, the only runner returning from the second-place 4x100.
“Goodew ended up suffering a quad pull last year about midway through the season, which hampered him toward the end, and he didn’t run again until the state meet,” Rod Reuer said. “He’s come back after the muscle pull. He’s been at state two years now. He was on the relay as a sophomore.
“We’re looking for a lot from him. He’s a kid who should step up to be a strong relay runner, plus be a 200 and 400 guy.”
Grant Reuer, who will compete in the 100 and 200 as well as relays, continues to recover from a broken left tibia suffered in the section championship football game.
“He’s getting back into shape,” Rod Reuer said, “but at this point he’s not ready. He will not run indoors. Our goal is to have him ready by the middle to the end of May when it’s most important.
“It’s been a long winter of rehab. He looks stronger but he just doesn’t have that pop in his step yet. He’s dealing with a little bit of pain in tough workouts. He is improving slowly, but it’s never fast enough. He just got the go-ahead to do as much as he can. He just needs to judge the pain he deals with.”
Led by Murrey, Rod Reuer said pole vaulting could be one of the team’s top events. The event also includes seniors Jackson Dols and Miles Pearson and junior Tim Nelson.
“Our three returning vaulters were all section placewinners last year,” Rod Reuer said. “Jackson has gone 12-5. Miles Pearson had a good section meet, and he’s been at 12-0, and we’ve got a couple young kids. Tim Nelson is showing promise.”
Jake Kassulker and Caleb Tautges return to give the Warriors a solid throwing group.
“We’re hoping Jake can pop one this spring,” Reuer said. “He’s been on the 50-foot border in shot put. In discus, he’s been around 140. We’re looking to see some improvement from him. I would rate him pretty high in the conference, possibly in the section.”
Returning to run distance are senior Riley Nelsen and junior Gerrit Garberich.
“Riley is coming off a great winter cross country skiing season, and a solid cross country (running) performance,” Reuer said. “He’s grown. He looks stronger. He could potentially be a pretty good distance runner.
“Gerrit is also a runner with cross country running and skiing experience.”
Sophomore Cole Smith returns to give the Warriors quality in the jumping event. He could also long jump.
“Cole had a great section triple jump,” Rod Reuer said. “He ended up going 41-5.75, and did that as a freshman. He’s much stronger. He had fantastic football and hockey seasons, and hopefully that carries on to spring.”
Top sprinters figure to be seniors Andrew Olson sprints and Nick Welch, who also will long jump.
“Nick had a nagging heel injury last year,” Reuer said. “Hopefully he’s back strong.
More than 70 boys were practicing this week, about twice as many as practiced during spring break a week earlier.
“For a number of our returning vets it’s their time to rise and shine and see what they can do,” Reuer said. “They’re backed up by some talented young kids.
“What I’m seeing is we’ve got a lot of kids that look like they like to work. They look pretty good and talented. We need to find out where to channel them and help them get in that direction.
“We’re not really shooting for early season success, other than to get out there and get some experience, learn and grow. We hope to be a pretty solid team come May.
“I’m very happy with the caliber of work, and basically with the caliber of athletes. The kids we have it looks like we’ve got some talent, we’re just young and inexperienced.”
SENIORS: Austin Anderson, Tyler Aldous, Jackson Dols, Jacob Goodew, Jeremiah Hoffman, Jacob Kassulker, Nick Kleindl, Chris Lundgren, Josh Murrey, Robin Myhrvold, Riley Nelsen, Nick Oldham, Andrew Olson, Miles Pearson, James Stearns, Caleb Tautges, Jackson Walters, Nick Welch
JUNIORS: Jon Asprey, Zean Baker, Marcus Comstock, Gerrit Garberich, Taylor Huber, Chuck Larsen, Tim Nelson, Jed Smith, Stafford Thompson, Justin Warling, Mike Wilmus
SOPHOMORES: Logan Davis, Bill Desrocher, Cristian Einarson, Alex Evanson, Sam Guida, Chris Hastad, Isaac Johnson, Justin Kuglin, Chris Laber, Sam Larson, Aaron Lundgren, Dana Monteiro, Garrett Moyer, Austin Polipnick, Grant Reuer, Carey Rezac, Nick Schwen, Geoff Sheflo, Cole Smith, Ian Smith, Isaiah Smith, Nate Smith, Kylin Sweeney, Ryan Votruba, Joshua Wasniewski, Austin Wohlert, James Weiss
FRESHMEN: Anthony Cory, Parker Frederickson, Gabe Gibson, Isaiah Gilderman, Caleb Herrlich, Hunter Casper, Kyler Kennedy, Taylor Lesmeister, Luke Lundstrom, Seth Murrey, Nate Olson, Taylor Schloemer, Jason Schmitt, Will Stolski, Isaac Stone, David Supinski, Matt Thompson, Christian Veith