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Somerset track team gets surprise victory at St. Croix Central Invite

Heather Hartwick reaches back to take the baton from teammate Courtney Buckland in Somerset’s 800 meter relay entry at the St. Croix Central Invitational last Thursday. 1 / 2
Somerset’s Ethan Lammers drives over a hurdle during Thursday’s meet at St. Croix Central. Lammers finished second to teammate Max Praschak in the 110 high hurdles race.2 / 2

Improvement, not team success, has been the focus of the Somerset track teams in the early stages of the 2014 season.

The Spartans got a little boost last Thursday when it was announced that their boys team had won the team championship in the nine-team St. Croix Central Invitational.

Spartan coach Terry Otradovec said the win was a relished surprise, saying it was more proof of the progress the team is making.

“It wasn’t just the top guys who contributed,” Otradovec said. “We didn’t have our number one lineup in there and we were still able to come away with a win.”

This was a running-event only meet, with Central’s grounds too wet to conduct the field events. The field events are where the Spartans have seen more of their success this season.

The hurdles were the main source of points for Somerset’s boys. Junior Max Praschak won by a healthy margin in both hurdle races. Spartan sophomore Ethan Lammers placed in both, taking second in the 110 highs and sixth in the 300 hurdles.

The sprints are becoming more of a point source. Sam Schoenbern is coming on fast, taking second in the 200 and fourth in the 100. The distance races were also productive, with Brandon Mondor placing third in the 1,600 and Cole Harty third in the 3,200.

Otradovec said the depth on the team showed in the relay events, where each school could enter multiple teams. He said the second teams in the Spartan 400 and 800 relay events were fractions of a second behind the team’s top unit. The same was the case in the girls relay events.

The only win for the Spartan girls also came in the hurdles, where sophomore Sam Flandrick took charge early in the race.

It seems that at least one girl emerges for the Spartans in each of their meet. In this meet it was junior Heather Hartwick. She ran well in the relays, but her best showing was in the 200 meters, where she moved up to take second place.

“All the girls are striving to be good,” Otradovec said, saying the goal of the team is to someday be on a par with Osceola, which turns out a strong girls team every season. “It starts this season with the quality younger kids combining with the juniors.”

The Spartans now begin competing in some of the larger meets on their schedule. The Spartans were scheduled to compete in this Thursday's Hudson True Team Invitational, but the meet has been postponed.

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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