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Progress seen as Somerset track teams compete indoors

Freshman Simon Schoenborn stretches to get every inch he can out of this long jump attempt during last Tuesday's meet in River Falls.1 / 2
Freshman Kaitlyn Struemke continues to show progress as a distance runner for the Spartans, placing third in the 1,600 meters at River Falls last Tuesday.2 / 2

The philosophy of the Somerset track teams is the same as everyone’s view of this spring’s weather.

“Get better, every day.”

The Spartans completed their indoor track season in the Menomonie Indoor Invite held last Tuesday at the Knowles Center at UW-River Falls. Somerset’s boys placed third among the 11 teams in the meet while the Spartan girls placed 10th.

The standout of the day for the Spartans at River Falls was senior Aaron Joppru, who placed highly in three field events. He was the champion in the pole vault, breaking his own school record by clearing 13 feet, 3 inches. He placed second in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump.

Somerset coach Terry Otradovec said he expects Joppru to continue making a large impact in those events.

“Aaron expects himself to be great in every meet,” Otradovec said. “There’s still room for big improvement from him in all three events.”

Somerset’s other victory came in the 55-meter hurdles, where junior Max Praschak pulled away from the pack for the win.

That hurdle race brought another in the cluster of improvements the Spartan boys showed in the meet. Sophomore Ethan Lammers ran personal bests in the prelims and finals, placing fourth overall.

“Ethan’s getting better in the hurdles every day,” Otradovec said. “That’s what we want, the kids to be better in every meet.”

His performance was one of several by the Spartans that showed the improved depth the team is building. Andrew Thurmes showed he’s ready to make an impact in the middle distances, placing eighth in the 800 meters.

Another athlete the coaches are counting on is senior Dalton Johnston. Johnston placed fourth in the 400 meters. With Johnston and Thurmes improving in the middle distances, it gives the Spartans more options for the 1,600 and 3,200 meter relays. Johnston is also working in the throwing events, where he could make an immediate impact for the team.

The Spartan boys also got placewinning efforts from Cole Harty in the 3,200 (third) and Sam Schoenborn in the 55 dash (fifth). All three boys relay teams were able to earn points, led by a fifth place finish in the 1,600 relay.

With the extreme youth on the Spartan teams and the relatively short track season, Otradovec said the coaching staff has needed to take two approaches to grooming the team.

“We’re balancing the patience of coaching the young athletes, with knowing there is just over a month before the conference meet, and the urgency to get the experienced kids ready by then,” Otradovec said.

The Spartan girls are very young, but they are finding girls to who can be competitive in most events. Sam Flandrick again placed in the hurdles, taking fifth. Kaitlyn Struemke again showed she is going to make an impact in the distance races, placing third in the 1,600.

Susan Schmitt remains a steady force in the 400 meters, placing fifth. This time she wasn’t alone in the event, with Kendrah Wink placing eighth.

A new placewinner for the Spartan girls was freshman Avery Gunther. She made the finals among 44 girls competing in the 55-meter dash, placing eighth in the finals.

The Spartans are slated to begin their outdoor meet schedule this Thursday at St. Croix Central. This meet is tentatively scheduled to be a running-event only meet, because the field event areas at Central are still quite damp.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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