SL seeks Lakes track three-peat
STORM LAKE - The goal for the Storm Lake boys track and field team can be revealed in one hyphenated word - three-peat.
Storm Lake has won the last two Lakes Conference titles and hasn't lost a regular season meet during that time.
Last season, the Tornadoes scored a record-setting 1,168 points, and only all-Lakes Conference performers T.J. Miller and Jim Phouangphet are gone from that squad.
"The leadership of this year's team will be in the hands of 14 quality seniors, who will be leading a group of 20 underclassmen," Storm Lake coach Dean Nicholson said. "Not only do they want to go undefeated and repeat their conference crown, but they also want to qualify enough events for the state meet to make a run at the Class 3A title."
Seniors Bob Blanchard, Jeff DeHaan, Kurt Hanna, Rory Fulcher, Ryan Brock, Scott Ellens and Justin Koeppe; juniors Tom Steward, Tyler Radke and Mike Miller; sophomores Colt Cook and Mike Keller; and freshmen Alex Wadsley, Lance Eddie, Mike Morse and Jack Phomphakdy will be the Tornado sprinters.
"Many of these guys have state meet experience and are looking for a great year," Nicholson said. "This group will be very competitive in all of the individual and relay sprint races."
Seniors Tim Brink, Brandon Ebersole, Pete Harder, Chuck Stark and Marco Merle; juniors Mike Solem, Tyler Radke and Tyler Youde; sophomores Pat Pearson, Adam Sievers and Matt Dentlinger; and freshmen Brett Miller and Casey Morgan will compete in the distance events.
"This is a very solid corps of runners," Nicholson said. "This group gives the team quality in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and the 4x800 relay and medley relay."
DeHaan and Ellens will compete in the high hurdles, while Koeppe, Radke and Ellens will participate in the low hurdles.
"Jeff was fourth in the state meet last year and is looking very good so far this season," Nicholson said. "Scott is just in his second year of track, but is showing much promise. Justin Koeppe was third in the state in the lows as a sophomore and second as a junior. He also has tied the school record in that event. His goal is to win the state title and break the school record. Tyler Radke is an excellent young low hurdler and should do very well this year."
The throwing events are very strong with junior Shane Maier returning in both the shot put and discus.
"Shane was fourth in the shot at the state meet as a sophomore and has already broken the school record this spring. His throw at the present time is probably leading the state in all classes," Nicholson said. "Justin Hocking and Chad Hotovec will contribute a great deal in the shot and discus. Brad Raveling is showing good improvement."
Sophomore Eric Grundmeier and Morgan and Wadsley round out the group of throwers.
The jumping events are also very solid. Returning in the long jump are Fulcher and DeHaan. Fulcher was second and DeHaan sixth at the state meet a year ago.
"They are jumping very well this season," Nicholson said. "They should have a great year. Matt Adams also shows some promise."
"We have three very capable high jumpers," Nicholson added. "Scott Ellens, Tyler Youde and Mike Keller all have the potential to score very well in all meets."
Storm Lake finished fourth in the state two years ago and sixth last year. They could go all the way this season.
"This is a very solid team with no glaring weaknesses," Nicholson said. "The squad members are focused and are working to improve and be the best they can be."