PREVIEW: Younger Panthers aim for high finishes

The Monticello boys track and field team, first row from left: Ben Barnhart, Taylor Manternach, Jon Mootz, Gavin Cooper, Chase Luensman, Tyler Hospodarsky, David Titman, Dashaun Werling, Alan Janssen, Colin Jordan, Chance Janssen and Alex Kremer. Second row: Aaron Loes, Jacob Lindauer, Tyler Kuper, Avery Martensen, Reid Barnhart, Thomas Broderick, Christian Nieto, Ben Oswald, Dane Thomas, Jasper Sharp, Adam Schmitt and Mason Reuter. Third row: Connor Franzenburg, Wade Picray, Wesley Henderson, Lake Stahlberg, Will Rieniets, Andrew Mescher, Max Keleher, Alex Nealson, Andrew Tjaden, Jacob Lorezen, Austin Timm, Josh White, Carter Cruise, Cole Cruise and Luke Weber. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Last year’s Monticello High School boys track and field team was a senior-dominated squad that came home with state titles in four events and a state runner-up trophy as a team.

     This year’s younger group may not have the lofty goals of the 2016 squad, but there is plenty to look forward to.

     “Last year we had a really talented senior class,” said senior Tyler Hospodarsky, one of two Panthers who return with state meet experience. “Coming into this year, we knew we had some talent coming back, and we just want to maximize our talent to the best of our ability.”

     Senior Aaron Loes, the other of the returning state qualifiers, agreed: “We lost a lot of talent last year, but we could get some events qualified for the Drake Relays, and maybe place at state.”

     This year’s squad has a different look than previous teams that relied heavily on distance events and relays.

     “I think it’s the sprinter squad this year,” said Andrew Mescher, who joins with Andy Tjaden, Loes and Hospodarsky as the team’s four captains. “We lost one of our team members in the 4x100, but we’re gaining so many freshmen, and we also have some sophomores and juniors stepping up this year.”

     The team has 13 returning letter-winners, including seniors Taylor Manternach, Jacob Lindauer, Connor Franzenburg, Hospodarsky and Tjaden; juniors Max Keleher, Ben Barnhart, Alex Nealson, Mescher and Loes; and sophomores Chase Luensman, Gavin Cooper and Avery Martensen.

     Greg Williams, now in his 22nd year as head coach, said the team has good numbers with 40 boys out for the team.

     “We can score points in a lot of different events,” Williams said. “We want to win the (River Valley) Conference, and place in as many events at State as possible.”

     “We want to do well at the district meet and get as many people to the state meet as possible,” Tjaden agreed.



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