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Tornadoes gunning for 8 in a row in the Lakes

Monday, April 2, 2007

Eight straight.

That's the theme for this year's Storm Lake boys track team.

All first-year coach Paul Matthew has to do is keep the Tornadoes' string of seven consecutive Lakes Conference titles intact.

But no pressure, Paul.

"Yeah, no pressure," Matthew said with a laugh. "It's like, whoa! The kids put that on their list as one of their goals. Kurt Hanna, my assistant, was on one of the first teams that started that."

Matthew, a Storm Lake native who ran the 5-kilometers and 10-kilometers at BVU and guided Denison-Schleswig's boys track team the past two years, replaces Jeff Brennan as the Tornadoes' chief. Brennan coached Storm Lake the past four years.

"It's going pretty well so far," Matthew said. "I was pretty impressed with our performance" during the first outdoor competition March 27 in Cherokee, a non-scored meet with just three teams.

Storm Lake placed fifth in Class 3A at state last year (Dubuque Wahlert, Williamsburg, Washington and Decorah went 1-2-3-4) and qualified 10 athletes in 12 different events: the high jump, long jump, 400, 400 hurdles, 110 hurdles, 800, 1600, 3200, 200, 4x100, 100 and 4x200.

The Tornadoes placed 19 athletes on the All-Lakes team en route to powerslamming second-place LeMars 161-98 for the title.

Points leaders Logan Masters and Alex Spielman have graduated and transferred, respectively, but four Storm Lakers return with state experience from last season.

Junior Freddy Mendoza took 21st place in the 3200 meters (10 minutes, 53.66 seconds) last year and 23rd in the 1600 (4:54.26). On Tuesday at Cherokee, Mendoza bested those state efforts by 25 seconds and 6 seconds, respectively.

"A lot of our guys are a little bit above where they were last year," said Matthew.

Senior sprinter Lamthong Sounnerath, who's been hampered by a hamstring injury and owns a career-best 11.28 in the 100, claimed sixth place in the 100 (11.49) last season and was on a 4x100 relay team that tracked ninth in 43.95.

He also ran on Storm Lake's state 4x200 relay (10th place, 1:32.47) along with two returning teammates: senior Tyson Brandt and junior Chom Thammavongsa.

"We're a young team," said Matthew, "but we've got a lot of guys returning with a lot of talent. We have a solid junior and sophomore class."

No longer a hurdle powerhouse, Storm Lake appears strongest in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 1600 and 3200.

"We've got nine or 10 guys we could put into the 4x2; nine guys can run (200 meters in) 23 or 24 seconds," Matthew said. "Especially when we get Lamthong healthy. It'll be nice to get him back and try him in the 4x100.

"Getting some first places out of our sprint relays will be key, plus Freddy in the mile and two-mile. We'll need some other kids to step up, and hopefully we'll get Nate Tucker (knee) healed up. And, I think we'll have a decent 4x800 team eventually."

Matthew looks at Spencer, Spirit Lake and Cherokee as Lakes teams to look out for, but he likes his team's depth.

"Our depth-compared to the other teams-will help us a lot," he said. "On the other hand, one of our weak spots is leadership. Chom does a pretty good job of saying, 'Let's go warm up.' We need more of that."

In the sprint corps, Sounnerath should be a big factor in the 100 and 200, and also fill in some relay spots. Sophomores Peter Winterton (200, 400) and Matt Ung (100, 200), as well as Thammavongsa, will also solidify Storm Lake in the sprints.

Tucker, sophomore Courtney Goodchild and junior A.J. Croker have shown promise in the middle distance races.

"We'd like to get Tucker in that 800 once he's healthy," said Matthew.

A trio of juniors, Mendoza, David Brady and Ryan Lovstad, will steer the long distance department.

Matthew likes what he's seen out of junior Matt Snyder in the shot put. "Matt's been throwing some of his best throws," he said.

Snyder and sophomore Jeff Kofmehl have looked the strongest in the shot, while juniors Jordan Carlson and Brendan Miller are the frontrunners in the discus.

Tucker, who won the high jump at Cherokee with a leap of 6 feet, will headline that event along with Thammavongsa and freshman J.B. Tut.

Thammavongsa and freshman Bobby Brown are the team's top long jumpers.

The first meet is already in the books, with the Tornadoes winning five gold medals. Next up is the MOC-FV Dutch Relays in Orange City April 3 at 5 p.m.


Seniors: Tyson Brandt, Lamthong Sounnerath, Daniel Higgins

Juniors: Jeff Keen, David Brady, Chom Thammavongsa, Daren Koehler, Joe Stuckel, Freddy Mendoza, Ryan Lovstad, Nate Tucker, Brendan Miller, Zach Miller, Mike Adams, Matt Snyder, A.J. Croker, Jordan Carlson

Sophomores: Keaton Dreher, Jeff Kofmehl, Spencer Darrow, Courtney Goodchild, Ben Seaman, Tony Pertzborn, Kyle Richter, Peter Winterton, Matt Ung, Patrick Higgins, Jose Hernandez, Casey Schultz

Freshmen: Bobby Brown, Jordan Van Der Sloot, Jaymie Bral, Jace Piercy, Paco Vazquez, Raymundo Villarreal, J.B. Tut


April 3: MOC-FV Relays, Orange City, 5 p.m.

April 10: Prairie Invite, Gowrie, 5 p.m.

April 13: Estherville Invite, 5 p.m.

April 17: Spirit Lake Invite, 5 p.m.

April 20: Pocahontas Invite, 5 p.m.

April 24: Cherokee Invite, 5 p.m.

April 26-28: Drake Relays

April 26: Storm Lake Invite, 5 p.m.

May 1: Tornado Invite, 5 p.m.

May 3: Spencer (JV), 5 p.m.

May 7: Lakes Conference, Emmetsburg, 5 p.m.

May 11: District, Storm Lake, TBA

May 17-19: State

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