GF Herald: GGF track and field preview: Local programs juggling schedules to combat cold spring

  • April 13, 2023

By Tom Miller of the GF Herald

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Grand Forks Central runner Quinn Roehl, center, keeps a steady pace in the first laps of the boys 1,500 meter race during the EDC Indoor Meet at the Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic Center in Grand Forks on Saturday, April 2, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

It would take an awful lot to unseat the worst track and field spring for the career of Grand Forks Central boys coach Sean Allan. His first year as head coach came during the 1997 flood of the Red River which forced the town to evacuate. This spring, however, ranks No. 2. “We’re encouraging guys to control what we can control,” Allan said. “We can’t control the weather, but we can control our attitudes and making the most of our competitions.” With lots of snow on the ground locally in the second week of April, Greater Grand Forks track and field coaches are doing their best to battle the elements.

“A lot of North Dakota teams are already planning to go to South Dakota, and we’re planning to do Minneapolis,” Allan said. “Even once the snow melts, the fields are wet and sloppy. You can’t throw or jump in the pits.” Central and Grand Forks Red River are hoping for a first outdoor meet this weekend in Minot. For Allan, he thinks discus throwers have it the worst this spring — at least some level of shot put can take place indoors and javelin throwers can workout with javelin-like objects. Central thrower Ethan Thomas, for example, throws the discus but not the shot put. “We’re six weeks in to the season, and he hasn’t competed,” Allan said. Red River boys coach Jeff Bakke said this spring has been especially brutal for track and field because driving conditions have meant even indoor meets have been called off. For example, when UND has been closed due to bad weather, the indoor Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic Center is unavailable. “It has been tough mentally for kids,” Bakke said. “It’s the amount of snow still around that’s been challenging. It has been a tough few weeks, and it hasn’t been until just recently that any predicted weather has been positive.” The Pollard has been a blessing for local track and field coaches.

“Without that, we’d be totally out of luck,” said Bakke, who has more than 100 kids on his roster. “We’d be stuck in hallways and the basement. Going to UND has allowed us to work on some technical events that we wouldn’t normally.” The Grand Forks teams have been practicing at the Pollard when it’s available, which often means at night. East Grand Forks Senior High has competed in two indoor meets at Concordia College in Moorhead. The Green Wave are also scheduled to host indoor meets at the Pollard each of the next two weekends. “We’re getting very good at making practices interesting inside,” EGF girls coach Liesa Hanson said. “We’re getting kids in shape, but we’re still not running outside. We just have to be as creative as we can be.” Both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks coaches have had to turn away many teams looking to be included in meets at UND. “We tell the kids, even though we’re competing, it’s like practices (during indoor meets),” Hanson said. “This is where we’re getting our track time. We’re hoping to help kids get in shape and explore some of the events and hopefully we can have an outdoor meet by the last week of April.”

GGF teams at-a-glance

Red River boys

Coach: Jeff Bakke.

2022 finish: Eighth at state meet.

Key returners: Sr. Logan Arason (second in javelin, 13th in shot put, state discus champion); sr. Lukas Heydt (second in 300 hurdles, seventh in 110 hurdles); sr. Jonah Dafoe (eighth in 800); soph. Elijah Dafoe (13th in mile, 13th in 3,200); sr. Quinn Nelson (11th in javelin); sr. Carter Byron (16th in long jump); soph. Isaiah Gaye (15th in triple jump); sr. Caleb Severson; sr. Mason Reynolds; sr. Mike Mallory; jr. Grant Hoffarth; jr. Ben Strand; sr. Hudson Flom; jr. Micah Larsen-Schmidt; soph. JB Walters; soph. Brody Andrade; sr. Jack Kouba; soph. Pearce Parks.

Top newcomers: Sr. Jaden Chine; sr. Amir Dorudian; sr. Cooper Schweigert; jr. Zach Oehlke; jr. Josh Neil; soph. Kyle Schafer.

Coach Bakke says: “This is a very senior-heavy group. We’ve been working with a lot of these guys since they were in middle school. We’ve known for a number of years that it could be a talented, big group of seniors. We cover all event groups pretty well in terms of balance of all the different events. We have a huge group of sophomores and some of them will play a role at the varsity level this year but we’re also looking forward to them developing over the next couple of years.”

Central boys

Coach: Sean Allan.

2022 finish: Sixth at state meet.

Key returners: Sr. Quinn Roehl (third in 800, fifth in mile, eighth in 3,200); jr. Ethan Thomas (13th in javelin); sr. Navy Oss; sr. Cade Lindseth; sr. Zach Kuznia; sr. Kevin Kubat; jr. Curtis Sande.

Top newcomers: Soph. Danny Suedel; soph. James Fewster, soph. Aidan Fiala.

Coach Allan says: “We have 30 freshmen out, and I’m really excited about the freshmen class. We have to keep working on improving every day. The leadership of my senior group really stands out. Quinn came in to the season in great shape and is ready to put out some impressive times.”

EGF Senior High boys

Coach: Roger Hanson.

2022 finish: Eighth place at Section 8AA meet.

Key returners: Jr. Hunter Jordheim (seventh in mile in Section 8AA, ninth in 3,200); sr. Kaden Vanyo (11th in triple jump); sr. Cooper Smith (second in 300 hurdles, 10th in long jump); sr. Caleb Zejdlik (21st in shot put); soph. Messi Kalenda (26th in shot put, 19th in discus); soph. Maverick Martine (13th in discus); sr. Cole Olson (seventh in pole vault); sr. Braden Carlson; jr. Jace Fore.

Top newcomers: Jr. Juvenal Chavez (24th in triple jump, 23rd in long jump); soph. Jaxon Mahar (20th in mile, 17th in 3,200); soph. Weston Mahar (24th in mile); sr. Jason Briones; jr. Cooper Boushee.

Coach Hanson says: “They work very hard, and they’re good teammates. I know track can be an individual sport, but they’re into their teammates doing well. They’re good practice guys.”

Red River girls

Coach: Adam Eckert.

2022 finish: Ninth at state meet.

Key returners: Jr. Jocelyn Schiller (third in 800, fourth in mile); sr. Lauren Dosch (seventh in 800, 10th in mile); soph. Ellery White; jr. Morgan Hartze (10th in 800); soph. Sophie Brakke (300 hurdles, 12th in triple jump); soph. Ella Weippert (fourth in javelin); sr. Lauryn Rydell (third in high jump); eighth-grader Jocelynne Hoefs.

Top newcomers: Fr. Madeline Look; seventh-grader Danielle Buroko; soph. Brenna Shock.

Coach Eckert says: “I think we have another good shot for our 4×800 and 4×400 with Schiller and Dosch and a couple of others. They’ve run good times. Dosch has run a 2:15 (in the 800) and to do that indoors was pretty impressive. Schiller ran a sub-minute (400) in her first meet coming off the basketball season. Sophie is looking strong this year with offseason training. Hopefully, we can get a better performance with our short races but our distance and middle distance will be our strength. We’re looking forward to seeing how that pans out throughout the season.”

GF Central girls

Coach: Lindi Chadwick

2022 finish: Didn’t score points at state meet.

Key returners: Sr. Kaylee Baker (state qualifier in discus); sr. Camille Finney (11th in pole vault at state); soph. Ellie Walsh; jr. Emily Arnold ; jr. Brynn Moen; jr. Aria Kindseth; sr. Kiara Holweger.

Top newcomers: Fr. Jacie Reardon.

Coach Chadwick says: “It’s a smaller team than previous years, but we’re able to fit in and compete in every event. That’s what I was a little worried as a new coach. As a small team, we’re able to be very diverse and fill all of our events and be competitive.”

EGF Senior High girls

Coach: Liesa Hanson.

2022 finish: 10th place for EGF girls at Section 8AA meet

Key returners: Sr. Lydia Floden (10th in mile, 15th in 3,200); sr. Jessa Robles (26th in mile); jr. Shali Anderson (ninth in 100 hurdles); sr. Katelyn Kovarik (29th in shot put, 25th in discus); soph. Camryn Adams (15h in long jump); sr. Allyson Batko (22nd in triple jump); soph. Katie Allard; eighth-grader Jerzey Perkerewicz; sr. Grace Jordheim; sr. Kassidy Bustamante; sr. Tatem Spokely; soph. Erin Wolff.

Coach Hanson says: “Even though we have quite a few seniors out, we’re still kind of a small, developing team. We have a lot of girls who can place and do well. We’re working on filling events. We don’t do that well right now.”