HIGH SCHOOL TRACK: Greene County boys preview
By BRANDON HURLEY
The Greene County boys’ track and field team is quietly building its way back up.
Constructing success through a core of state-experienced veterans and a plethora of newbies, the Rams look to shift into high gear come the tail end of April.
With a few of the squad’s top sprinters and their school records gone from a season ago, Greene County turns the page with the help of a trio of seniors.
Nick Schroeder, Chase Stoline, and Logan Lansman each boast state experience, but must now exude leadership and poise for a young team.
If the Rams hope to improve on their sixth place finish at the Heart of Iowa Conference meet a season ago along with a strong showing at state, they will have to do so without Max Neese and Daric Whipple, who played pivotal roles last spring.
The 2017 senior trio can scoot in their own right, though.
The Ram 4x100-meter relay squad anchored by Lansman, and Stoline along with Whipple and Neese, made the trek to Drake Stadium in Des Moines, finishing 15th in the prelims.
Schroeder led off the 4x400-meter relay team of of Neese, Ethan Woodruff and Whipple that finished 18th at state.
As a team, Greene County finished 34th last May in Des Moines with four points. Pella squeaked out the team championship in 3A, winning with 62 points, just ahead of Vinton-Shellsburg who scored 56 points.
Greene County head coach Dean Lansman saw tremendous improvement a season ago and expects more of the same this spring.
“I felt last season was a great success as we had six events qualify for the state meet and finished fifth at districts,” the coach said. “Our goal is to always finish faster and throw farther at the end of the season and we were able to accomplish that and set several school records along the way.”
Schroeder posted the best 400-meter time on the team last (53.28) and looks poised for a fast start, coming in second in the same event Monday, March 27 and winning the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.50, a half second ahead of Winterset’s Moise Yeager.
Logan Lansman and Stoline provide valuable relay experience, and together with Schroeder, give the Rams a solid foundation in the sprints.
“I’d say our low to mid sprints will be our strength until some of the younger kids progress in the mid distances,” coach Lansman said. “[They] will [have] to look to others to help them get back to the blue oval this spring.”
A youth movement is in the early stages on the Linduska track.
A deep team, at least numbers-wise, should give Greene County a chance to compete in more events. The 2020 freshman class provides a boost in numbers that Lansman is pleased with.
“We will be able to compete better in a few of the areas we were down in last year,” the coach said. “It is great to see the younger kids really pushing each other to get stronger and contend for those spots.”
Inexperience may become a burden at times with several track meets littering the landscape each week. The Rams will take their fair share of lumps as the season progresses. But the veterans have done their part so far, expecting nothing but the best from the younger athletes in practice and in early compettions.
“I think this will get better as the year goes on,” the coach said. “They are really working hard and working each other everyday in practice. The experienced athletes are being very good role models for the younger ones.”
Freshman Carter Morton impressed in his first high school outdoor action Monday, winning the high jump (5-06) and coming in second in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.01.
Lansman’s coaching philosophy centers around growth but also making it enjoyable. Practices have been tough, but the kids still find time to lighten the mood.
“Running isn’t always everyone’s favorite thing to do,” Lansman said. “So you try and make it fun at the same time as pushing them to be the best they can.”
North Polk captured the Heart of Iowa Conference championship last spring and finished 10th at state, but graduated several key contributors. Gilbert boys came in second, three points behind champion North Polk and return a pair of state qualifiers. Senior Steven Lawrence and junior Alex Sharp each qualified for state in the shuttle hurdle relay, finishing seventh. South Hamilton sophomore Logan Peter finished eighth at state in the 1,600-meter as a freshman, running a 4:33.62, just outside the top-five. Peter was also a member of the state-qualifying 4-by-800-meter relay team of Jared Fisher, Josiah Brown and Devon Fisher. All three return for the 2017 season.
CMB junior Brady Kemp finished ninth at state in the shot put a season ago while Will Klapper finished 16th as a freshman.
“As always, the conference will be very difficult,” Lansman said. “Each team has some great strengths and all have state meet experience. We just need to go out and compete each time we step on the track or field event area.”
Improvement is the goal as the season ramps up, to reach peak performance when the postseason rolls around. That’s not to say Lansman’s guys won’t push each other every night and expect to win.
“We want to be able to compete each time we step on the competitive surface,” Lansman said. “We want to build towards the conference meet and state qualifying meet with the hopes of getting kids the opportunity to run at the state meet.
Greene County opened the outdoor season with the Ram Relays Monday, March 27, playing host to a bevy of teams around the area. They hit the road Friday, March 31 for a meet in Winterset. They stay on the road for the next two weeks until their return for the Ram Relays, April 17 in Jefferson. Greene County will host ADM, Boone, Carroll, East Sac County and Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center.
The possible state qualifying sites in 3A, which will take place May 11, are:
Denison-Schleswig, Marion, Mount Pleasant, North Polk (Alleman), Norwalk, Pella, Spirit Lake and Waverly-Shell Rock. The state track meet, for all classes, is the following week, May 18-20 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.