New faces galore for boys track teams

Herald File Photos
Jasper's Reece Milligan sped past Forest Park's Garrison Tretter in last year's sectional meet. Milligan is one of several returning athletes for the Jasper boys track team while Tretter is one of 12 seniors that graduated from last year's Ranger squad. Forest Park will be filled with plenty of freshman and sophomores searching to earn points right away for their team.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

While the weather hasn’t necessarily been the warmest, the area boys track teams have been working hard these past couple of weeks to get ready for the spring track season.

Here’s what to expect from the five area boys track teams this season.

Jasper Wildcats

Last season: Won their third consecutive sectional meet and second straight Big Eight conference title. Malik Chatman, Easton Bair, Chris Backer, Sam DeWitt and the 4x400 relay were all sectional champions. Chatman, DeWitt and the 4x400 relay team were all state qualifiers.

Opening meet: Today vs. Springs Valley and South Spencer, 6 p.m.

Returning athletes:

Will Birkle, Sr.

Kyle Hedinger, Sr.

Jadon Mehringer, Sr.

Raife Milligan, Sr.

Reece Milligan, Sr.

Ronnie Monge, Sr.

Lance Schmitt, Sr.

Drake Siegel, Sr.

William Simone, Sr.

Will Smith, Sr.

Luke Summerlot, Sr.

Zach Watson, Sr.

Cameron Eckstein, Jr.

Mitch Kaiser, Jr.

Ben Kizior, Jr.

Sam Kluemper, Jr.

Jackson Miller, Jr.

Drew O’Neil, Jr.

John Summerlot, Jr.

Joe Wood, Jr.

Easton Bair, Soph.

Key Newcomers:

Abe Eckman, Fr.

Sam Leonard, Fr.

Notable: There’s no denying that spirits are high around the Jasper boys track program as the Wildcats will enter this season as the three-time defending sectional champs.

Head coach Kevin Schipp believes the confidence that comes with that success has helped everyone up and down the roster.

“It gives the kids something to shoot for and the belief and confidence that they can do it,” Schipp said. “The guys that have been around to experience that, it helps give them a different level of leadership.”

Some key returning members include Easton Bair and Reece Milligan (sprints), Jadon Mehringer and Luke Summerlot (throwing events), Raife Milligan and Ben Kizior (hurdles), Jackson Miller, Drew O’Neil and Will Smith (distance events) as well as Joe Wood and Mitch Kaiser (pole vault).

While the majority of the Wildcats have been practicing for awhile, several members joined late due to Jasper’s boys basketball team’s run to the regional. Schipp believes that success the boys basketball team endured can carry over to the track.

Quotable: “That experience and competition when the stakes are higher is important. It’s important for kids to get that no matter what sport it is, it develops them as better leaders.”

Jaden Hayes is coming off of a state finals appearance for the Raiders in the discus. He'll be one of the elder members of the Southridge boys track team along with several other upperclassmen.

Southridge Raiders

Last season: Finished fifth at the sectional, Jaden Hayes and Garrett Voegerl were individual sectional champs in the discus and high jump respectively.

Opening meet: April 2 at Tell City, 5:30 p.m.

Returning athletes:

Garrett Altmeyer, Sr.

Derek Brunsman, Sr.

Matt Gentry, Sr.

Noah Goeppner, Sr.

Jaden Hayes, Sr.

Logan Hunter, Sr.

Devin Murphy, Sr.

Seth Nunamaker, Sr.

Owen Roy, Sr.

Jaffet Cruz, Jr.

Sam Schroeder, Jr.

Jude Songer, Jr.

Brad Springer, Jr.

Garrett Voegerl, Jr.

Dylan Bland, Soph.

Cameron Giles, Soph.

Ricky Pflanz, Soph.

Notable: Ted O’Brien will have an expanded role for the Raiders this season as he’ll take over the head coaching role for the boys track team in addition to his role as the girls track team’s head coach.

However, this extra workload doesn’t bother O’Brien one bit — in fact, he doesn’t think it’ll feel any different than the past few seasons.

“Coach (Scott) Buening and I practically ran our programs together the past three or four years and that was always our goal and vision,” O’Brien said. “We wanted to morph the two programs together and utilize our assistant coaches the best we could.”

Southridge returns a lot of top point scorers from last year’s team including state qualifier Jaden Hayes in the discus and sectional champion Garrett Voegerl in the high jump. The Raiders also return the 4x8 relay team that set a new school record in last year’s PAC Meet (Logan Hunt, Sam Schroeder, Jaffet Cruz, Dylan Bland) as well as several distance runners including Cameron Giles.

What’s impressed O’Brien the most through the preseason workouts and training is how much the Raiders are paying attention to detail and making sure the little things are done right.

Quotable: “They’ve accepted the vision of what we want to do — I’ve been impressed with how focused they’ve been on training which is never one of the more fun parts of the season. The work ethic has always been there.”

Forest Park Rangers

Last season: Finished third in both the sectional and Pocket Athletic conference meet; Andrew Schuler was a sectional champion in the shot put.

Opening meet: Tonight vs. North Posey, 6 p.m.

Returning athletes:

Jarod Knust, Sr.

Lucas Mehringer, Sr.

Nick Sutherlin, Sr.

Alex Weyer, Sr.

Corbin Bell, Jr.

Jeremiah Erwin, Jr.

Daniel Eckert, Soph.

Ben Kluesner, Soph.

Key newcomers:

Kristian Alegria, Fr.

Dylan Meyer, Fr.

Spenser Wolf, Fr.

Notable: The Rangers will have a little bit of a different look this season as the team will be primarily dominated by freshman and sophomores.

Forest Park graduated 12 seniors from last year’s group which means a lot of newcomers will be expected to earn points right away for the Rangers. Head coach Philip Wolf has noted that right away the freshman have wanted to learn and improve as much as they can.

“Everyone is eager to learn because they all want to help build the program out,” Wolf said. “Their willingness to learn has been incredible.”

Several freshmen that have already began to catch Wolf’s attention are Kristian Alegria, Dylan Weyer and Spenser Wolf — Alegria and Wolf both had impressive freshman campaigns for the Rangers cross country team.

With so many young athletes, Wolf is hoping to use tonight’s first meet as a measuring stick for what’s to come.

Quotable: “I told them from day one that this meet is to see where we’re at and we’re going to build from that meet on. This meet will show that we’re going to build for the future — that could be a month from now, a year from now but no matter what we’re going to be building toward it.”

Dante Miller is one of the returning athletes for Northeast Dubois as he will be one of the Jeeps top competitors in the long jump as well as hurdles and sprints.

NE Dubois Jeeps

Last season: Won their fourth consecutive Blue Chip conference title; placed fourth at sectional.

Opening meet: April 2 vs. Loogootee, Crawford County and Springs Valley at 5:30 p.m.

Returning athletes:

Malachi Baumeister, Sr.

Matthew Jacob, Sr.

Trevor Seufert, Sr.

Ethan Breitweiser, Jr.

Nathan Schnell, Jr.

Eli Lueken, Soph.

Dante Miller, Soph.

Key newcomers:

Jacob Ivey, Sr.

Sam Wilson, Sr.

Pierce Brinkman, Soph.

Notable: With the retirement of longtime head coach Vic Betz, the Jeeps had to look elsewhere for a new boys track coach this season.

Leslie Denu, who has an abundance of experience as a track and cross country head coach at Southridge, returned to her alma mater to coach both the boys and girls track teams this season.

“I’m excited to be back as a Jeep where I learned everything that I know about track,” Denu said. “It’s also exciting to be coaching along with the coaches I had — Vic (Betz) is going to come back to volunteer and Tammy Schulthies is going to be one of my assistants.”

The Jeeps return several key members from last year’s Blue Chip championship team including Trevor Seufert (throwing events), Malachi Baumeister (sprints, high jump), Nathan Schnell (distance), Eli Lueken (sprints, high jump) and Dante Miller (hurdles, sprints).

Through the preseason workouts and early training, Denu has been impressed with the leadership the upperclassmen have displayed in helping the younger guys on the team succeed.

Quotable: “The juniors and seniors have taken them under their wings and they’ve helped push them through workouts.”

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last season: Won their first PAC title since 2007; finished second at sectional with Noah Hufnagel and Jacob Luebbehusen advancing to state.

Opening meet: April 2 at Forest Park, 5:30 p.m.

Returning athletes:

Kyndell Carter, Sr.

Mitchell Hopf, Sr.

Grant Lashley, Sr.

Zane Schaad, Sr.

Jacob Wetzel, Sr.

Kaden Feldpausch, Jr.

Alex Hasty, Jr.

Gavin Vaal, Jr.

Elliott Buechlein, Soph.

Key newcomers:

Dominic Williams, Jr.

Alex Schaeffer, Fr.

Eli Wilson, Fr.

Notable: The Heritage Hills boys track team will have some shoes to fill as the Patriots graduated over 10 seniors from last year’s team that won the school’s first PAC title since 2007.

However, there’s no denying that last year’s team helped to create a positive culture around the Patriots track program that’s still being felt today.

“The culture has been built — body, mind and soul is what we’re putting into this,” said Heritage Hills head coach Pete Lashley. “I really like where that’s going and the leadership that we have has continued that excitement.”

Key returners for the Patriots include future Indiana State Sycamore athlete Mitchell Hopf (distance), Kyndell Carter (sprints), Grant Lashley (distance), Gavin Vaal (sprints), Alex Hasty (pole vault), Elliott Buechlein (middle distance) and Jacob Wetzel (a variety of events).

Lashley has been proud of the work the Patriots have put in here at the early point of the season. He knows that his guys are worn out right now but they also are well aware how much it will pay off down the stretch.

Quotable: “We’re tired — we have tired legs, tired bodies but they know it’s going to pay off in the end. These guys have been getting after it all winter and they’ve been working extremely hard.”




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com