Coaches: Gretchen Wahl (girls for the fourth season) and Mike Bobbe (15 years, eight at Andover and second as boys’ coach)
Outlook: Girls: The 10th anniversary of the Huskies track program comes with some high expectations after a third-place finish in the Northwest Suburban Conference and section runner-up last season. Andover sent five individuals to state, including senior captain Taylor Nivala, who ran in the 200-meter dash and is one of three returners from the state-qualifying 4×100 relay team along with Raquel Thelen and Maggie Kurtovich. Thelen also ran in the 400 and look for Kurtovich to excel in the long jump this season.
Cross country and Nordic ski coach Scott Clark returns to the coaching staff to work primarily with the distance team, of which the Huskies have one of the top groups in the state highlighted by Nicole Heitzman, who qualified for state in the 3200 run, and Maddie McKeefry, who won the section 1600 run and was part of the 4×800 relay team. Watch for Ellie Haskins to excel in the 800.
Wahl says better depth and a more well-rounded team should equate to better team results than last spring.
Boys: Andover is the defending Section 7AA team champion and should continue that success at the big meets again this season. It is led by state champion thrower and senior captain Thomas Anderson, who won the state shot put title and finished second in discus. Captain DeShawn Crtuch finished ninth in the 110-meter high hurdles at state and is a three-time state entrant, taking part in the long jump and as part of the 4×200 relay. Captain Ben Wenberg was part of the 4×200 relay team and will be a key sprinter. Captain Zach Roy was an all-conference jumper and distance specialist and captain Kurt Hellman was an all-conference 1600-meter run honoree and finished third at sections.Bobbe said if the team stays healthy and consistent it will have a shot. “We have several individual athletes and a host of talented young athletes,” he said.
Coach: Pete Tremaine
Outlook:Anoka boys’ track returns conference and section 200-meter dash champion Cole Boughner along with Mo Strong who competed at state in the triple jump and Stewart Heltmes who was injured in the section finals.
The girls failed to qualify anyone for the state meet but look to return with a young group led by hurdler Nicole Abbott, distance runner Kaitlyn Fritz, sprinter Katie Bednorz and junior jumper Lauren Sherva.
Coach: Rob Nick, 12th season (boys), Ann Stalboerger, 21st season (girls)
Outlook: Blaine boys’ track looks to continue its recent run of dominance in team competitions where it is the two-time defending Section 5AA and Northwest Suburban Conference champions. The Bengals come off a fifth-place finish at the state True Team meet and 10th at the MSHSL state meet.
Nick said a stable group returns this spring, but will need newcomers to step up if they hope to continue the recent success.
Blaine returns senior captain and the defending Class AA state 100-meter dash champion Ayuk Tambe, who was also part of the all-state 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams and at 5 feet-4 inches tall will attempt to become the program’s first three-peat champion.
Knule Ayinde was part of the all-state relays in addition to an all-conference and all-section honoree in the high jump. He will be relied on for team points in the jumps and sprints.
Patrick Mendin earned all-section status in the 200-meter dash and was another component from the section championship 4×200 relay team.
Senior captain and thrower Chris McLeod was an all-conference and all-section thrower as a junior.
Dajuan Copeland was an all-conference and section hurdler in the 110-high hurdles and reached the state meet. He is the defending conference champion in the 300-meter hurdles and earned all-section distinction. and fifth place at sections. The girls are coming off a seventh place finish in the conference Thrower Dani Anderson was the lone state entrant but did not place.
Two current school record holders return in junior captain Hailey Lachinski who holds the top 400 meter time and junior Kirsten Olsen holds the program high jump mark of 5-5. She finished second at the conference championships and fifth at sections.
Senior captains hurdlers Julia Clifford and Andrea Ohmann also return. Both will compete at 100 and 300 hurdles while Clifford will also pole vault. Junior Courtney Purcell was the top sprinter for the Bengals and return.
Three quarters of the conference champion 4×400 relay team return including juniors Hailey Lachinski and Ashley Pakfo with sophomore Kiersten Falck.
Junior thrower Hayley Kytta earned an All-Conference honorable mention honor and finished seventh in sections in the discus last spring.
Sophomore jumper Marissa Eggerich earned All-Conference honorable mention in the long and triple jump.
Coach: Russ Sullivan (boys), Dennis Green (girls)
Outlook: Coon Rapids boys’ won the section True Team meet last spring and had several individual section runners-up that moved on to compete at the state meet in the 100 and 200 dashes along with the three jumping events (long jump, triple jump and high jump). The downside is that all state participants graduated last summer. Captains are Nick Gifford and Makhail Butler.
Distance coach Dyan Stanton takes over for Don Timm this spring after three years as assistant to Timm on the track and on the cross country course.
The girls return several key members including thrower Courtney Pasiowicz who finished seventh at state in the shot put. Coach Dennis Green expects her to be in state contention with the discus this season.
Distance specialist Paige D’Heilly should be a standout in the conference and section again and high jumper Nicole Christianson missed out on state by a tie-breaker at the section meet.
Sophomore hurdler Amber Harris also narrowly missed state in the 300 hurdles by 0.80 seconds.
Legacy Christian Academy
Coach: Dennis Meints
Outlook: First-year head coach Dennis Meints brings in a wealth of experience as an accomplished runner at Bethel University before graduating in 2011. Senior captain Peter Clausen should follow up a very successful cross country season by grabbing the school record in the 3200 and 1600. Pole vaulter Tim Davie reached 13-6 last spring and has his sights set on 14-0 and a trip to state. Colton Ramsey sat out last spring because of transfer rules and should be a force in the throwing events.
Allie Franzen should lead the sprinters and jumpers after recovering from a hamstring injury. Haley Bertsch was the top 800 runner last season and should continue that role this spring.
Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony
Coach: Don Finneran
Outlook: The reigning North Suburban Conference champions (boys and girls) will have a few gaps to fill if they want to add another section crown.
Finneran returns for his 31st season as head coach for Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony track after a brief retirement.
The boys return sprinter David Shadduck who earned All-Conference honors and anchored the 4×100 relay. Shadduck pulled a hamstring as he crossed the finish line in sections and didn’t compete at state. Sophomore Gilbert Tsurwa stepped in to anchor the relay at state and placed fourth. Junior CJ Janu will be the top hurdler and narrowly missed out on state in his first season. Throwers Bobby Brown (All-Conference Honorable Mention) and Cam Musselman will try to replicate the success now graduated Jesse Reetsma had last spring.
Triple jumper Chris Ambrozich is recovering from a hip injury and will be another person to watch.
The girls graduated a lot of its top performers but return a few including two-time state high jumper Lindsay Trappen and All-State and All-Conference hurdler Kirsten Whitney. The versatile athlete will also be the top jumper and vaulter this spring.
Allie Picard will be the top distance runner after earning All-Conference status in the 3200 run.
Coach: Andy Forbort
Outlook:Saints junior thrower Maggie Ewen was named USA Track and Field-Minnesota High School girls’ Athlete of the Year after winning her second straight state discus title and first shot put title last June. She simply dominates the throwing competitions breaking the all-time state discus mark last spring.
The Saints finished fifth in the Section 7AA meet while the boys were third. Both teams placed 11th at state.
Compiled by Jason Olson