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Paynesville Press - March 30, 2005

Young boys' team gaining experience in track

By Michael Jacobson

A young Bulldogs boys' track team will focus on individual improvement, individual goals, trying new events, and having fun in 2005.

The Bulldogs' first meet this spring will be the indoor meet at St. John's University on Saturday, April 2, starting at 6:30 p.m.

After losing seven seniors to graduation last year, this year's team has only three upperclassmen - seniors Josh Binsfeld and Matt Mehr and junior Aaron Bachman - along with eight sophomors and two ninth graders. Binsfeld is a thrower (shot put and discus), Mehr is a long-distance runner (placing 12th in the 1,600-meter run and in the 3,200-meter run at sections last spring), and Bachman is a hurdler and pole vaulter (including third in the pole vault at sections last year).

Bachman earned All Conference honors last year by winning the conference title in the pole vault and taking second in the 100-meter hurdles. (He qualified for sections in the 300-meter hurdles.)

The bright side of losing seven seniors is that there are open spots for this year's young team to gain experience, said Todd Spanier, a 1991 PAHS graduate who is the new boys' coach after spending two years as an assistant coach. "There's lots of room for these guys to move around, have fun, learn new events, and improve times," said Spanier.

Since starting practice on Monday, March 14, Spanier has already seen improvement. Sophomore Travis Flannigan, they discovered, has a natural gait for the hurdles, three-stepping a short set of hurdles in the gym.

Sophomores on the team this year (along with their expected events) are: Dugan Flanders (long-distance runs); Flannigan (jumps, relays, and hurdles); Bryce Fischbach (sprints); Kurt Forster (middle-distance runs); Mike Houske (jumps and relays); Alex Jewell (sprints and jumps); Cole Kampsen (throws); and Peder Thompson (long-distance runs). Ninth graders are Bill Thompson (sprints) and Alex Svejkovsky (throws and middle-distance runs).

With a minority of members having been involved in track since junior high, Spanier expects to focus on trying and learning new events. He also hopes to add a few new members to the team as the season proceeds, part of his plan to rebuild the numbers in the boys' track program. (A good sign for the program is having 20 boys in junior high track, said Spanier.)

Like his predecessor (Darrel Carstens), Spanier expects to focus on the conference, subsection, and section meets, using meets to gain experience before fielding the team's best lineup for these end-of-the-season meets.

Helping Spanier this year will be assistant coach Kyle Nehowig (field events) and Carstens (who Spanier expects to help the long-distance runners).

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