Written by Andrew Ottoson Tuesday, 27 March 2007 16:28With the graduation of standout middle-distance runners Brian Lightner and Caleb Stanton, the Tabor College men’s track-and-field team will lean on a young group as it tries to gain ground on KCAC perennial power Southwestern.
At last year’s conference meet, the Bluejays scored 141 points and finished second. Their point total was the highest since the 1973 Bluejays scored 153 points and won the school’s only championship.
Both Lightner and Stanton were seniors and conference champions, and they both qualified for the outdoor nationals.
For leadership, the 2007 Bluejays middle-distance runners will turn to Jeff Anenson, the group’s only returning senior, for leadership.
“He’s been more of an 800-meter guy in his college career, but he wants to focus more on the 400 for his senior year,” Kroeker said.
Kroeker also said that he anticipates four other runners making a big impact in the middle-distance races. Caleb Schroeder, a junior transfer from Azusa Pacific, will run the 800.
“Caleb has the ability to finish under 2:00,” Kroeker said.
Two freshmen, Adam McPeck and Centre grad Dustin Burnett, also will run the 800.
“(McPeck) is a freshman 800 runner whose goals are to get under 2:00,” Kroeker said. “I’m excited to see how that progresses for him. (Burnett) has just been training for a couple weeks, but I’m looking for good things from him.”
Another freshman who will try to make an impact in the middle-distance races is Dan Sigley, who ran well in Tabor’s first meet, at Southwestern.
“(As a group), they’re young and untested, so we’re looking forward to seeing how those guys develop during the season,” he added.
For long distances, Tabor turns to Zac Remboldt and Hillsboro grad Ric Johnson.
“Zac has set his sights on the school record this year,” Kroeker said. “He was less than a minute away from that in his first race, and he’s a capable runner.”
Johnson ran cross country in high school and played tennis.
“We’re a little short in numbers for distance runners on the men’s side,” Kroeker said.
The sprinters will give Tabor an edge it hasn’t had in recent years, Kroeker said.
Hector Laboy has already qualified for the outdoor national meet when he ran the 100 in 10.62 and broke the school record by over two-tenths of a second in the first meet of the season.
Kroeker said Laboy should be able to do well in the 200, too.
Brent Nelson, a member of the Tabor basketball team, was a state-champion 400 runner in Colorado.
“He’s a young guy trying to get in track shape,” Kroeker said. “I’m looking for good things from him.”
Andy Bartell, a standout defensive back on the football team, is running track at Tabor for the first time as a junior.
“He’s one of the fastest guys on the football team and has some ability in the 200,” Kroeker said.
Another football player who will make a strong contribution to the squad is Matt Dean.
“(Dean) had some hamstring problems in the first month, but was also pretty quick on the football field,” Kroeker said. “We think he can help us out in the sprints and some in the jumps.”
Trent Voth has mastered the hurdler’s combination of sprinting and jumping. The senior is a two-time conference champion and three-time national qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles.
“He’s far and away the best hurdler in the conference in the 110,” Kroeker said.
Tony Loewen is the team’s top 400-meter hurdler.
“He was hurt most of last year, but he ran well (in the first meet of the season),” Kroeker said.
Nathaniel Porter, who finished right behind Loewen at Southwestern, transferred from Emporia State and is a former Class 3A state champion in the 400 hurdles.
Kroeker noted that Hillsboro alum Tim Funk and Brad Kiser also run the hurdles well.
Wide-receiver-turned long-jumper Aaron Jenkins tied a school record in the first meet of 2007 at 23 feet, one-half inch.
“That’s 2.5 inches from a provisional national qualifier,” Kroeker said.
Jenkins, a senior, is also a triple jumper.
Caleb Marsh, another HHS grad, is the team’s top pole vaulter.
“We’re looking for (Marsh) to clear 15 feet in the pole vault this year,” Kroeker said.
Silas Hibbs is a sophomore vaulter who placed at the conference meet last year. But Hibbs injured an ankle playing soccer earlier this year and underwent surgery.
“Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go,” Kroeker said.
Jeff Harms and Funk are the squad’s top high jumper.
“Jeff has already gone 6 feet, 3 inches this year and his goal is 6-6 or 6-7,” Kroeker said. “That’d be competitive in at the top of the conference.”
Brent Wichert is showing the form that made him a first-team all-conference performer last year.
“Brent has already thrown the hammer 144 feet and he’s also thrown the discus well—he’s off to a great start,” Kroeker said.
Cody Dick also will throw hammer and javelin.
“He tore his ACL playing intermural basketball last year,” Kroeker said. “But he’s back and we’re looking for him to do good things.”
Jarod Richardson placed in the top six in the conference throwing the shot put.
Kyle Basinger is throwing “reasonably well” in the discus this season, Kroeker said. “We’re excited about that.”
With everyone in the KCAC chasing Southwestern, Kroeker said he would be disappointed if his team did not find a way to equal its second-place showing from a year ago.
“We’d need help to catch Southwestern, with other teams taking away points from them without taking points from us,” Kroeker said.
“We feel like we have a chance. It’s a long shot, but at least we’ve got a shot.
“I think we’re the only team in the conference that can say that we have a chance to catch them.”