O'Brien is optimistic about Southridge track

Herald file photo
Southridge's Anna Altstadt is back for her senior track season.


HUNTINGBURG — There have been a lot of opinions shared about the coronavirus and how it has disrupted most aspects of everyday life in the past few weeks. Southridge track and field coach Ted O’Brien called it a “unique” situation unlike anything that’s ever happened in Dubois County. Uncertainty is at an all-time high as players and coaches alike try to stay prepared for a spring season that may or may not happen.

“It’s a tough situation,” O’Brien said. “You want to make sure everyone is OK, so you totally understand the decisions that have been made. It’s just tough for our athletes, especially our seniors. It’s a little bit of an unknown right now, and a lot of them have anxiety about what to do to stay in shape. A lot of it is on their shoulders as they wait and see.”

But O’Brien remains upbeat about the Raiders knowing what to do despite lacking formal practice time at the moment. He’s confident the groundwork he and the coaching staff have used over the past few seasons provides a good outline for the kind of workouts the kids need to do to stay fit for the spring

“We’re at Year 5 of running the same kind of program,” he said. “Kids understand our process and what we do on a weekly basis. There’s a general idea (of what to do), so that helps out a lot. It’s different because it’s now on them. They've got to take ownership of some of that and make sure they don’t lose what they’ve built in the first couple weeks of practice.”

Both the girls and boys teams bring back a platoon of athletes that will make the Raiders formidable at almost every event they enter. O’Brien is shooting for both teams to once again be in the conversation for conference and sectional titles, as well as sending a few athletes back to state.

“It’s just another building block year for us,” he said. “This senior class is what we’ve built this whole thing around, and they’ve been extremely successful in their career. The classes around them have had some nice pieces to add with them. They have some lofty goals, and it’s about doing the right thing day to day for them.”

The girls team finished second at sectional last season after Jasper edged them by just 12 points. They will also have a couple of holes to fill as juniors Monica Steckler and Rose Tempel both endured knee injuries during basketball season. But senior Grace Sickbert has recovered from her dislocated knee cap and is working her way back to form. She won three individual sectional titles (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump) and was part of the record-setting 4x100 relay team. She also qualified for state in both hurdle events and the 4x100.

Senior Anna Altstadt will be back at the 200, 400 and high jump, and will see some relay time. Senior Brooklyn Tretter will lead the distance events. Senior Alexis Brady has recovered from a torn hamstring, and figures to bring speed to the sprints, along with fellow senior Grace Meece. Junior Ansley Bicknell will contribute at pole vault. Junior Kennedy Siddons will take up the discus, and sophomore Karla Algeria will be at shot put. Freshmen Bailey Keusch and Marie Tempel will provide depth in the relay events.

The boys team, which also placed second at sectional, lost a big point earner in Jaden Hayes, but they retained senior Garrett Voegerl, who won a sectional title and placed fifth in the state at high jump. He’ll add some 200 events to his plate this season. The Raiders also return senior and top sprinter Jude Songer, who missed last season with a back injury. The entire 4x800 team (Dylan Bland, Jaffet Cruz, Cameron Giles and Ricky Pflanz) that set a new school record last season will also be back. They’ll all be sprinkled around middle- and long-distance events. Juniors Parker Kippenbrock and Matt Springer are back at the hurdle events. Juniors Leyton Lauderdale, Erik Hernandez and Luke Lange will take up the throwing events for the Raiders. Sophomore Aidan Jochem could split time at the 200 and some relays.

O’Brien hopes his team has the chance to perform and accomplish their goals, but not at the expense of everyone’s health and safety.

“It’s a tough time, but we understand the decisions and want what’s best for our kids,” he said. “We desperately want the track season to happen for our athletes, but we don’t want to put our kids in any kind of danger. Their well being is more important than a game.”

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