For now, there seems to be way more questions than answers for the Aberdeen Central track and field squads.
Until athletes actually get out and compete, coaches normally aren’t quite sure what to expect. Throw in a year off because of COVID, and the equation becomes even more tricky to solve.
“Right now, we’re in pre-season warmups for this indoor season, because we don’t have any marks for two years,” said Central girls’ coach Jim Appl. “Melanie Jacobs was a state champ as a sophomore, but Melanie Jacobs is now a senior and two years older. I have no clue where she’s at.”
Appl said the initial few weeks will be about finding who can do what.
“These first three weeks we need you to compete as hard as you can and compete against yourself,” Appl said he told his athletes. “Then we can determine where we’re at as a track team.”
Central boys’ coach Greg Murley feels much the same way.
“We kind of have a group of two classes who have never done high school track. Certainly a learning curve with some of these younger guys, but we do have some experience,” Murley said. “Carter Hogg who has been around with us for a while has just been a great leader with our young guys. We’re going to count on him, his leadership skills, probably as much as we count on him on the track.”
The Golden Eagles do have some proven athletes. Josh Martin won the State AA individual cross country championship last fall with teammate Daniel Street finishing fourth.
“Obviously, Josh Martin and Daniel had a great fall and those two are workers,” Murley said. “They bring other kids along. We have a handful of freshman and sophomore distance runners that run with them all winter.”
Central has plenty of talent in the jumping areas as well.
“Over in the jumps, we have Sam Rohlfs. You better know his name. Good athlete, great kid,” Murley said, “along with Jacob Merxbauer returning as really solid jumpers for us.”
The Central girls will also likely be led by their distance runners.
Jacobs has been a cornerstone of the program for years and has plenty of help.
“When I say that our strength is going to be our distance runners, middle distance, Zoe Douglas, Melanie, Jordan Hermansen, we have a bunch of kids there that are solid,” Appl said. “That’s where are seniors are.”
The Eagles are also counting on big things from Makenna Glanzer in the pole vault and hurdles.
While COVID wiped out a year’s worth of competition for athletes all across the state, it also took away what could have been one of the best Central boys’ teams in years, according to Murley.
“We’re disappointed that we lost that season, because that could have been one of the better track teams we’ve had in Aberdeen since the early 2000s,” Murley said. “But we have to move on.”
Despite the lingering questions about the upcoming season, there is one thing that is not up for debate. The weather has been ideal for spring sports so far.
“The weather is outstanding. We’ve been outside every day,” Appl said. “It doesn’t matter how cold it is, they realize they’re going out there and running. We haven’t had any whining, any complaining. Our kids are tough.”
Murley said the nice weather hasn’t impacted his members much, especially the distance runners.
“Our mileage isn’t a lot different than if it were snowing, especially with our distance guys. Those guys are used to running,” Murley said. “We’ve traditionally run well at ESD (Eastern South Dakota Conference) and state in the last few years. That’s what we want. I hope the best is coming, because there’s a lot more in us.”
It promises to be a memorable spring for Central. Not only do the Eagles have their traditional home meet in May, but this year Aberdeen will host the ESD meet.
“That’s so exciting. It’s Coach (Gene) Brownell’s last year as an athletic director. I know that’s going to be emotional for him,” Appl said. “Our last two or three Aberdeen meets have been canceled. We haven’t had one here in four years.”
That alone should have people fired up for the spring season.
“I’m so looking forward to May and I’m looking forward to the journey to get there,” Appl said. “Our kids have a great attitude. Our coaches have a great attitude. We’re going to have fun this year.”
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