State qualifiers fuel track

Hillsboro head coach Dennis Boldt will look to these returning state qualifiers to lead the 2018 track and field team: (from left) Eva Franz, Brodie Rathbone, Wes Shaw, Abby Sechrist, Sienna Kaufman and Kaden Ward.<p>
Hillsboro head coach Dennis Boldt will look to these returning state qualifiers to lead the 2018 track and field team: (from left) Eva Franz, Brodie Rathbone, Wes Shaw, Abby Sechrist, Sienna Kaufman and Kaden Ward.<p>
Hillsboro track and field head coach Dennis Boldt and his assistants are preparing for the upcoming with a roster of 40 athletes.

At the core of this year’s team are the five returning state qualifiers from a year ago.

◼ Wes Shaw had an outstanding sophomore season in 2017. He set school records for shot put (55 feet, 111⁄2 inches) and discus (157-3). The previous records were set in 1968 and 1981, respectively.

Shaw was far and away the leading point scorer for Hills­boro last year, with 178 points—which was 105 more than the next-highest male. He topped off the season by placing third at (2A) state in shot put and seventh in discus.

“Wes will be throwing mainly shot and discus, but he is also working on javelin this year,” Boldt said. “He threw it a little bit last year, but it was a little hard to do all three.

“In my opinion, it’s better to do two things really well instead of three things minimally well when you have an opportunity to be a state champion as compared to qualifying in three events,” Boldt said. “We’ll go with that, but I think he’d like to have the record in the javelin (176-10), if he’s capable.”

◼ Kaden Ward qualified for state in high jump, pole vault and long jump, placing sixth (6-0), seventh (12-6) and ninth (15-9), respectively.

“Kaden is back in the jumps,” Boldt said of the senior. “We look for him to be also a factor in sprinting, whether it’s a relay or an individual sprint event.”

◼ Senior Brodie Rath­bone returns as the only member of the state 4×400 team that finished 13th at state.

“Brodie would obviously be a 400 runner and run the 4×400, and he does some horizontal jumps as well,” Boldt said. “He’s a little injury-prone, so we try to keep him healthy.”

Three Trojans girls return after qualifying for state in 2017.

◼ Sienna Kaufman placed fourth in pole vault (9-6) at state and just missed a medal in long jump, placing ninth at 15-9. She was the leading scorers for the Trojan girls with 86 points.

Abby Sechrist placed 13th at state in the open 800 (2:35.65). She generated 66.77 points for her team in 2017.

“Abby returns as a three-time state qualifier in the 4×800 and open 800,” Boldt said. “She’s really a leader by example.

“I would peg her and Brodie as leading our girls and boys’ teams. They speak well of track and field, they are disciplined, they are excited about competing and they’re very hard workers.”

◼ Eva Franz went to state as an alternate in the 4×800. She scored 31 points for the Trojans in 2017.

“Eva’s a good scorer in our horizontal jumps and she’s a fantastic runner,” Boldt said. “She likes the long and triple jumps, but I do want her to be a runner for us.”

He doesn’t know yet which relay teams might emerge.

“We don’t have enough girls for our 4×800—we’ve lost too many of those runners,” he said. “But we’ll look at perhaps a 4×400 and I definitely think we’ll have a 4×100.”

Newcomers

Boldt said this year’s high school squad is relatively youthful.

“We’ve got a ton of freshmen and sophomores out there,” he said. “But this is probably, in the last five or six years, the most exciting group and easiest to work with group I’ve had. Work­outs are fun, but we’re focused on getting the kids where they need to be. The young ones are learning how to work hard. We’ll be able to cover a lot of events.”

Boldt highlighted four girls who could impact the team score as freshmen.

“Jessica Saunders was one of the top throwers in our middle school discus,” Boldt said. “I think she can make an immediate high school impact.”

He said Kinsey Kleiner and Iris Klein could contribute in the sprints.

Boldt said sophomore Addie Berens placed in four events at regionals last year, but did not qualify for state by not finishing among the top four.

“We really look for her to have a breakout year,” Boldt said. “She’s our lone hurdler in the high school, period— both boys and girls. She’s looking at the 100 (meter) and 300 hurdles, she also throws the javelin and she long jumps.

“Sometimes kids come in under the radar, but not this young lady,” Boldt added. “We know what she’s capable of. She’s a hard-working kid.”

For the boys, distance running may get the biggest boost this spring.

“We’re bringing in a young group of distance runners,” Boldt said. “Caleb Diener will probably be the leader as far as speed, but Tristan Reed is one who qualified for state cross country. Dillon Boldt will be running distance as well.”

Lacking of a fourth distance runner will likely negate having a distance relay, but Boldt said they should be able to fill a 4×400.

“I don’t know how well they’ll score in the big meets, but they can pull some points for us,” he said.

The Trojan coach sees potential in freshman Car­son Linnens in the jumps.

“Carson did a great job in jumps last year,” Boldt said. “He’s a tall, wiry kid that likes the triple and the high jump. I think, particularly in the small meets, he can make an impact.

“My job is to find something positive for them, something they can be successful at,” Boldt said. “I will keep the kids that find success. You cannot talk a kid into coming out—it’s hard work, it’s the third sport of the year for many of these kids.

“If they find success, we’ll keep those kids. It’s not just a matter of keeping positive every day, they want results.”

Assisting Boldt this year are: Jeff Haslett, pole vault; Don Ratzlaff, hurdles; Malinda Just, jumps; and Len Coryea, throws.

Season outlook

Boldt said Hillsboro remains a 2A school that competes in a league against 3A and 4A schools.

“I don’t mean to whine about that,” he said. “Track is one of those sports where we’re not going to get beat up physically like we did in football, because of low numbers and physical size. In basketball, it takes a toll on you when you’re in a league like we are.

“But I will always argue that we’re going to give everybody our best shot, and we’re going to go with the attitude that we’re competing against better teams and that’s going to make us better.”

The irony is that Hills­boro track athletes often compete better in a regional meet than it does in the league meet.

“Our girls and boys finished in our league ninth and 10th (respectively),” he said. “In our regional, we finished third and sixth. Regionals have 16 teams, our league has 11.

“That right there is an indication: don’t give up.”