Experience, numbers give Panthers high hopes

Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

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By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor

The largest squad in Greg Williams’ 19 seasons as Monticello boys track and field head coach has high hopes of improving on its fifth place finish at the 2012 state meet this coming season.

The Panthers, 46 members strong, have a full complement of distance runners from Monticello’s state championship cross country team. They also have Cody Jamison, a state champion in the high jump last season who has already gone higher this spring. And Devonte Merrill, who placed in the discus at the Drake Relays and at State a year ago.

“We have a lot of good people with experience coming back from State,” said senior co-captain J.J. Frawley. “Our number one goal is, we want to win the state team title.”

Logan McQuillen, another senior captain, agrees.

“We don’t have a ton of seniors,” McQuillen said. “But a lot of juniors were down at State (last year), so the younger guys see that and want a piece of it too.”

Williams is praising not only the numbers, but the team’s attitude.

“This is our largest squad we have ever had. That in itself is great, but this team’s attitude is as good as it gets,” Williams said. “We have had less than perfect weather so far. It has been rough training, but this group hasn’t let that slow us down.”

The Panthers have an astounding 24 returning letter-winners. Included are seniors Anthony Guyer, Chris Tjaden, Clayton Tjaden, Brian Turnis, Dallas Lumpa, McQuillen and Frawley; juniors Anthony Kinley, Tyler Johnson, Michael Melchert, Tanner Felton, Ben Ahlrichs, Isaac Holtz, Daniel Pike, Craig Welter, Spencer Williams, Nick Meyers, Ian Stickfort, Cody Eby, Jamison and Merrill; and sophomores Justin Dirks, Peyton Paddock and Trent Aitchison.

Eight of the Panthers have state meet experience. Along with Jamison, and Merrill, who was third in the discus at state last year, there are Melchert, Ahlrichs, Lumpa, Frawley, Turnis and McQuillen.

There is also large number of freshmen.

“In cross country they were really good,” co-captain Lumpa said, “and on the track, I think they’ll be really good again.”

Co-captain Melchert agreed: It’s definitely going to help in the future, for them to get that experience.”

“Looking at us our freshman year, they’re probably a step better than we were,” Frawley said.

“A big step,” Lumpa added.

The Panthers have already made big steps. Jamison has already jumped higher than he did at State last year. The Panthers’ 4×800 relay is fast enough already to qualify for the Drake Relays, and the 1,600 medley has run faster than any of it 2012 times.

“We competed very well indoors, and the outdoor season looks to be a lot of fun,” Williams said. “With this many guys, we can try a lot of different combinations at our meets.

“I look forward to seeing how this team develops throughout the year.”

He is assisted by Donnie Kremer.

PHOTO: Monticello boys track captains, from left: Michael Melchert, Logan McQuillen, Dallas Lumpa and J.J. Frawley. (Photo by Pete Temple)