While Aberdeen Roncalli features many familiar names this track and field season, the Cavaliers have something new to help them carry on their rich tradition in the sport.
For the first time in program history, Roncalli has its own practice facility where the team can workout without having to travel across town.
Roncalli coach Mark Stone cannot be more grateful.
“People with an all-weather surface wouldn’t necessarily envy us, but for us … it’s just such a blessing for us to have what we have,” Stone said. “We’re just so appreciative to anyone and all people who helped make that happen.”
Time will tell if that practice complex, located right behind the school, will translate into faster times and farther distances, but it certainly has changed the way the team approaches things.
“It saves transportation time every day, so we’re getting more opportunities to get work done,” Stone said. “From a coaching standpoint it makes practice management and use of time just so much better.”
The Cavaliers girls will be led by senior Morgan Fiedler, the defending State A champion in the triple jump. Fiedler, who also placed in the 100-meter dash, did not even try the triple jump until the latter part of the season last spring.
“I think it was probably late April last year before Morgan made her way over to the triple jump workout,
Stone said. “That’s the evidence of her athletic ability that she can pick up an event a month before the state track meet and then have that kind of success.”
Fiedler is one of those rare athletes who can score in a variety of events.
“She can run from one end of the track to the other pretty quickly,” Stone said.
Fiedler is part of a group of seniors that includes Ella Ulmer, Olivia Ulmer, Elizabeth Russell, Sarah Mitzel, Sophia Madsen and Rose Gutenkauf.
“This group of senior girls is really special,” Stone said. “They’re just special kids.”
Juniors Jaz Hart-Crissman and Lillian Jensen are key members of relays.
A group of underclassmen featuring Jaidyn Feickert, Bella Martinez, Madisen Martin, Paige Schmidt, Sarah Schmidt, Ava Hanson, Maddie Huber, and Andrea Waytossek will also be counted on for major contributions.
Meanwhile, the Roncalli boys will feature members who have the ability to score in a variety of ways.
“When you look at our boys’ squad one of things that sticks out is there’s some young men that are pretty good athletes that have shown that, not only in previous track seasons, but in other sports,” Stone said. “We do think we have some balance. We’re going to cover our field events. We’re going to cover our track events.”
The team will be led on and off the track by the likes of Maddox May and Matthew Martinez, upperclassmen who “for that reason we have some expectations on them not only performance-wise but leadership-wise,” Stone said. “We look at those people and you have to start with them.”
Junior Jayden Munroe is a returning state place-winning in the triple jump and will lead a group of younger athletes who will be a big part of the squad.
Caden Shelton, Paul Gutenkauf, Garrett Griffin, Brody Weinmeister, Kaden Larson, Darwin Gambler, and Aiden Fisher will provide the Cavaliers with versality in a variety of events.
“I think people will see some names they don’t recognize that are going to develop and do some things for us,” Stone said.
He noted that the team has some versatile runners, which will help in putting together teams in the relays. They will complement the field event athletes.
“We have proven kids in the jumps. We have some proven kids in the throws,” Stone said. “Some of that may take a little time … I like our depth, I like our enthusiasm, and I like our work habits the first two weeks of the season.”
The Cavaliers are scheduled to start their outdoor season at a meet in Ipswich on Tuesday.
Stone said the early part of the season is a time to bring the squads together and set the foundation for the rest of the year.
“One of our big focuses early season is to build a community, trying to assemble a bunch of kids from different grade levels, both genders,” Stone said. “And once we establish our community where we put a lot of focus on the spiritual side and we put a lot of focus on each other, once we get that community (formed), we think a lot of good things are going to come from that.”
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