After a record-breaking season in 2000, the Brainerd Warriors boys' track and field team must reload this spring.
The Warriors graduated several of their top performers from a season in which they set six school records, won three meets and the first Section 8, Class 3A True Team championship in program history.
"It will be a lofty goal to repeat," Warriors coach Rod Reuer said. "We've got pretty good balance, but I don't know if we have the caliber of top-notch performers we had last year. We had five or six pretty tough kids, and we were able to back it up with pretty good depth. I don't know if we have that kind of quality this year."
Reuer believes last year's success in True Team may have influenced the number of boys who decided to participate this spring.
Boys' track and field
Head boys' coach -- Rod Reuer, sixth year (4 at Page and Napoleon, N.D., second at Brainerd)
2000 boys' finish -- Second in CLC, third in North Subsection 8AA, third in Section 8AA
Returning state meet participants -- Mike Weiss (4x200 relay, 4x400 relay, 400 dash), Jason Howard (4x400 relay)
Assistant coaches -- Howie Jacobs (hurdles), Kris Smith (long and triple jumps), Chet Stevenson (boys' shot put and boys' discus), Dan Clabo (girls' shot put and girls' discus), Heidi Hahn (girls' distance), Dave Herath (boys' distance), Mike Langer (throws), Evan Frisk (jumps), Alison Ohe (girls' sprints, relays).
(Meets 4 p.m. unless noted.)
10-BRD TRIANGULAR, Apollo & Little Falls
12-at Crosby-Ironton Inv.
17-at Little Falls Triangular
24-St. CLOUD TECH
27-at Bemidji State Inv., 1 p.m.
1-at Alexandria triangular
4-Time Trials, at Sartell, 4:30 p.m.
5-at Hamline Relays, St. Paul, 10:30 a.m.
8-Section 8, Class 3A True Team, at Alexandria, 3:30 p.m.
15-CLC championship at Little Falls, 1:30 p.m.
18-State Class 3A True Team at Blaine, TBD
24-North Subsection championship at Detroit Lakes, 3 p.m.
2-Section 8AA, Moorhead, 1 p.m.
8-9 State championships at Blaine, TBD
"First of all, we point to see how well we can do in the conference," Reuer said. "The next step is True Team. Because of the numbers of athletes we have, the True Team format is something we like to gear up for.
"I think last year's success had something to do with bringing more kids to the program. We have a solid 85-86 right now. Kids understand that their participation counts in that meet. It creates a great team atmosphere.
"In the conference meet and in some big invitationals, you can do well with a few individuals. You need those individuals in the True Team concept as well. But you have to have some horses."
Junior Mike Weiss is one of the Warriors' horses. Weiss was an all-state and all-conference performer, a member of the 4x400 relay that placed fourth in Class AA and was on the 4x200 relay that was 11th. He also placed 12th in the 400 dash. He has participated in four state events in two varsity seasons.
"Mike is actually our top returning sprinter," Weiss said. "He's also now moving into throwing shot put. He's put on quite a bit of size since last spring. It will be interesting to see how he handles the increase in size with what he was able to run last spring.
"I think he will become a pretty good shot putter. He definitely has the strength and quickness needed for that event. It's a matter of picking up the technique part of it. We still need to look at him as one of the leaders for our sprint crew, but right now he's recovering from a slight hamstring pull. He didn't run in the conference indoor (March 31)."
Another athlete Reuer was counting on was senior Jason Howard, a member of the 4x400 relay and owner of the school record in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (39.9 seconds). Howard, voted the most improved junior, has been battling a back injury this spring and has been unable to participate in workouts.
"I was looking at him coming back, breaking the school record in the hurdles and running the 4x400 faster than Weiss," Reuer said.
Other key returnees include captains Chad O'Brien (800 and 1600) and Jamie Strowbridge (discus, shot put); juniors Louis Bedard (1600 and 3200) and Brady Rutman (1600, 3200), voted most improved as sophomores; and sophomore Zach Toms (400, 800), most improved as a freshman.
"We should be much better in field events this year," Reuer said. "Brian Burke is throwing well so far early. We've got a number of shot putters on the verge of getting to the mid-40-foot range. Our discus throwers should be improved and our distance runners should be improved over where we have been. We've got a lot of (distance runners). We won't be as deep in hurdles and in sprints."
Already this spring the Warriors have competed in the Huskie Classic and Central Lakes Conference indoor meets, both at St. Cloud State University.
Seniors -- Tom Barrett, Brian Burke, Jason Howard, Henrik Impola, Joel Jacobson, Ben Johnson, Jason Larson, Trevor McCulloch, Adam Miller, Chad O'Brien, Jake Pfingsten, Jamie Strowbridge, Nate Wallin, Josh Wilson.
Juniors -- Louis Bedard, Craig Bourassa, Darren Clabo, Jose English, Jeff Hanson, Jorgen Hartje, David Helmer, Ron LaMere, Brent Levig, Brian Losos, Dustin Matson, Devin O'Reilly, Seth Owens, Brady Rutman, Dan Thomas, Mike Weiss.
Sophomores -- Josh Anderson, Brandon Asker, Steve Becker, Mark Bublitz, Cass Casper, Matt DesMarais, Jake Jorgenson, Andy Legrid, Cory Olson, Jason Roberts, Matt Schmitz, Zach Toms, Evan Tougas.
Additional varsity candidates
Seniors -- Brent Bendson, Haiko Fries, Dan Karlgaard, Nick Phelps.
Juniors -- Jayme Burnard, Jeff Goodman, Billy Haag, Andrew Henke, Mike Kostohryz, Robert Rosina, Josh Schirmer, Allen Stephenson, Kyle Tholen.
Sophomores -- Adam Carnes, Josh Christenson, Bruce Coonfield, Nick Dahlman, Garrett DeChaine, Jonathon Forstner, Luke Furda, Drew Herman, Chris Miller, Dan Moon, Derek Nathe, Thor Nystrom, Dustin Olejnicak, Luke Shipman, Drew Stattine, Brandon Town, Peter VanderHagen, Tommy Vice, Tyler Zahn.
Freshmen -- Mike Elder, Seth Gogolin, Justin Grunewold, Ryan Heilman, Nate Lucas, Derrek Matson, Aron Morton, David Murdock, Jeff Sands, Jacob Smith, Justin Tautges.
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