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Holmquist is new leader of Somerset boys track program

Mike Holmquist is getting his first chance to be a varsity head coach in leading the Somerset boys track team this spring.

To prepare for the role, he's been sponging up track information in talking to veteran track coaches. He's leaned on his high school coach, Osceola's Kelly Stephens, and Spartan girls coach Dave Praschak. When Holmquist was offered the job, he didn't say yes right away. It was only after Stephens and Praschak promised to mentor him that he agreed to become head coach.

Holmquist said he will also rely heavily on the rest of the coaching staff. Distance coach Bill Roll, hurdle coach Bill Jahner and throw coach Terry Otradovec all have years of experience that he plans to build into his plans for the team. Roll was a head track coach at Hill-Murray before becoming the Somerset Athletic Director.

"He's probably the most overqualified assistant coach on Earth," Holmquist said.

Holmquist has spent the last three years helping coach sprinters and jumpers. The first two of those years was at UW-La Crosse. Last year he helped coach at Medford, where he was doing his first year of teaching.

Holmquist found out about an opening on the Somerset Elementary staff from teacher Cory Kreibich and he jumped at the chance.

"Cory's been a mentor for me and being near my family was huge," Holmquist said as his reasons for pursuing his second grade job in Somerset.

Holmquist was an assistant coach on the Somerset boys basketball team this winter, which served as a strong lead-in to his track role. When he held signup meetings before the season, he was amazed at the turnout.

"The kids just kept pouring in. We ran out of paperwork on the first day," he said.

With more than 50 boys out for the team, the coaches have plenty of talent to work with.

With so many boys out for track for the first time, the first weeks of the season have been spent teaching the track basics.

Holmquist said the track veterans on the team have stepped up to serve as mentors to the younger athletes in their specialty areas. The Spartans had four indoor meets scheduled so the newer members of the team will know all the basics by the time the outdoor portion of the season begins.

Holmquist has boundless enthusiasm for coaching.

"The nights before meets, I don't sleep," he said. While the nerves have kept him awake, his passion for the sport has helped form a quick connection with his athletes.