Bluejay boys unleash huge crew on oval opponents
Coaches- Kurt VandenHeuvel (3rd yr. head, 7th overall), Craig Hoffman (17th), Dave Arneson (28th), Guy Pawlicki (19th), Paula Soderberg (2nd).
Last season’s accomplishments- 5th WVC outdoor, 6th indoor.
Major losses- Alec Oestreich (SQ rel., spr./J, ind. 400 rec.), Lucas Olson, (SQ rel., spr./HJ), Lukas Gessler (MD/LD), Cody Dengel (spr.), Jared Wardall (SP/D), Coty Rajek (SP/D), Ben Riehle (hur.).
Key returnees- srs. Bryce Litschauer (SQ rel., 400/800), Eric Ball (state Q PV), Andrew Seaman (MD/LD), Austin Bonnell (SP/D), Michael Seaman (MD/LD), Jacob Jensen (dist.), James Nohr (rel./400); jrs. Kriss Philipp (ind. 55/50 rec., spr.), Tyler Schmidt (spr./SP/D), Dan Blakeslee (HJ/TJ), Ethan Schneider (hurd, 400), Nick Peterson (spr./J), Nick Hoffmann (rel./200), Brandon Bartz (spr./J), Dalton Wilding (rel./400), Lucas Lee (spr./rel.), Cole Rajek (SP/D); soph. Jake Anderson (sect. Q TJ/LJ/spr.).
Promising newcomers- srs. Paul Theorin (dist.), Dylan Schielke (dist.); frosh. Tyler Butler (spr.).
VandenHeuvel quotable- “The track program is up in numbers (62 to 95) made up of great athletes and talent. My goal for conference is to take third behind SPASH and Everest. Those two schools have strong programs and I can see Merrill being like those programs one day. Another expectation is to have depth in the program that if we lose someone to injury, the team does not pay the price. I like the rookies we have on the team. I see them as guys to rely on to step up and compete!
“Our goals include to: defend and win all meets we host; be competitive with Marshfield, West, Rapids and East; and get better where we were weak last year (distance, horizontal jumps and hurdles). I would like to see every event score a point this year. We are capable of doing it.
“Our senior leadership, the team morale this year is much more serious and competitive than last year, mainly due to the leaders of our team (Kriss Philipp, Sam Skic, Tyler Schmidt, Matt Rekowski, Austin Bonnell, Eric Ball). They lead by example by helping coach others who need a friendly reminder of the outlook of the team’s work ethic and leadership. We are very strong in the sprints and I feel we have improved tremendously in the jumps and distance. We are scoring points against conference teams and I have not seen that since I took over as the head coach.
“I enjoy the focus this team has. They are a very fun and coachable group with many talents that have not yet been released. Look forward to us shocking many teams when we show up and compete the way we do. I told my athletes to allow teams to judge us but do not allow them to underestimate us. The truth is we are a good team this year, we will be great if we can do the little things (nutrition, proper warm-up/cool down, meet preparation, visualization, consistency, and competing)!”