NEW ULM - If tryouts for this year's track and field season are any indication of how the season is going to go for the New Ulm Eagles, the team is going to be just fine.
"We're down a little bit this year, but we're not that far off of where we ended last year," coach Tony Ortmann said. "The difference is none of them are dropping out."
Ortmann, who is in his second season as coach for both the boys' and girls' teams, is getting his squad ready for another season. While the roster isn't finalized quite yet, Ortmann has a fairly solid framework in mind of whom he sees competing in which events.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Seniors on the New Ulm track team this season are: (front row, from left) Jeff Banal, Micah Armstrong, Miriam Henning, Jatia Traulich, Connor Rouse and Jacob Wood; (back row, from left) Dylan Burger, Adam Wenzel, Caleb Schmidt, Derek Anderson, Jacob Dow, Christian Stewart and Michael Soukup.
He's also hopeful that some of his players will be willing to break outside of their comfort zones and try some new events.
Derek Anderson, Riley Drahota and Aaron Stark return as distance runners on the boys' side and Andy Hawkins, Adam Wenzel and Michael Soukup will be key for New Ulm in the sprinting events.
Christian Stewart and Caleb Schmidt are both returning for their fourth year and will be doing most of the throwing for the Eagles. Micah Armstrong and Jeff Banal have been posting good numbers in the long jump.
Ortmann hopes that both are able to transition to triple jump to give the team some extra depth in the field events. One of the opportunities Ortmann sees is in the hurdles.
"If the boys really want to contend or compete for the conference championship, that's the hole we're going to have to fill and if we can do that I think we have a good chance to compete for it," Ortmann said.
Jatia Traulich and Miriam Henning are the only seniors on the roster, and ones he is expecting to lead in their respective events. Traulich, Bree Friedman and Brittany Gulden will be doing a lot of the sprinting for the Eagles.
"They've been working really hard and they're doing a pretty nice job of working with the younger girls as well," Ortmann said.
The distance running will be led by Amber Gutzke and Alyssa Kelley. Gutzke is a strong 400-meter runner, and Kelley, who set the junior high record in the 200-meter and 400, will be running more varsity events this year for the Eagles.
Henning will continue to work the throwing events, specifically the shot put. She and Kate Carlson are expected to do the lion's share of the throwing.
Traulich and Hailey Trautmiller will handle the bulk of the jumping for the Eagles.
One of the surprises this year has been the weather. With the warmer temperatures, the Eagles have been able to hold most of their practices outside, which has limited injuries so far.
"Being outside we haven't seen any shin splints, or injuries in general," Ortmann said.
Overall, Ortmann is confident of his team, and is looking to focus this year on what they can control. He feels better about the depth, and knows where the strengths and gaps lie.
The Eagles' next meet will be on Thursday, April 5, at Waseca.