Boys track and field coach Dave Wik says that until his team gets outside, which could still be a while, it will be difficult to know for sure what kind of potential they have.
But he’s excited with what he has seen so far.
The Magic kicked off spring season Tuesday night, hosting a four-team indoor meet at Monticello High School. Between some early returns there, a sample of who’s back from last year and the addition of some strong practice performances early this year, Wik expects to put a strong product on the track.
“We haven’t really talked much about [expectations],” he said. “But I think we could be strong. We have a pretty solid lineup right now.”
It starts with the returners. Monticello brings back two-time state participant Sam Johnson, all-around performer Lowell Laudert and top thrower Jake Olson.
“Sam will be a pretty dominant athlete wherever we put him,” said Wik, adding that Olson will be tough to beat in throwing and that Laudert has looked good early in the hurdles, along with being the team’s top jumper.
In distance running, Monticello will look to senior Derek Secord to set the pace.
And yet another guy who has impressed early is Matt Grathwohl. The junior flew to a victory in the hurdles Tuesday night.
“He’s looked really good these first couple weeks,” said Wik. “Our hurdlers look strong.”
Wik noted that between other returners and promising up and comers, there could be plenty of athletes to watch this year.
“There are some other guys that are on the verge,” he said.
By groups, Wik expects the team to be strongest in areas like hurdles, distance and throwing.
They have a few small areas to patch up, including sprinter depth as they look to put together relay teams, but as a whole, Wik sees a pretty balanced lineup.
“I think we’re going to be pretty consistent across the board,” he said.
Having the balance will be key to scoring enough points to challenge the top teams in the conference. But having those top guys perform well might be key to instilling enough confidence in teammates to create a balanced lineup.
“It’s huge for the younger guys,” said Wik, about seeing their older teammates perform well. “Obviously those guys are doing well and feel good about themselves, but the team gets a little different swagger to it too.”
It’s a little tougher to find that swagger in the field house, where the Magic can only work on so many things. But they’ve tried to use this time early in the season to nail down techniques and prepare for the transition outside, so they’re ready when the time comes.
“That’s when the real season starts,” said Wik.
The start of the real season will bring competition from the usual suspects, according to Wik. The coach expects Buffalo and St. Michael-Albertville to be strong once again, while also looking for tough competition out of Chisago Lakes, one of the teams that has been added to make the Mississippi 8 a 10-team conference.
“They’ve got good athletes,” he said. “I expect they’ll be the strongest [of the new teams].”
Of course, as always seems to be the case this time of year, just when the Magic will step outside and begin that real season is up in the air.
Distance runners have been working outside and sprinters are getting some work in, but Wik thinks it could be a couple more weeks before the full team is out there. Right now, he’s eying April 10, the University of Minnesota meet, with optimism.
“I’m guessing with some warm weather that they might be cleared,” said Wik. “Hopefully after that meet, we can be outside at our own place.”
Led by a handful of first place finishes, Monticello won Tuesday’s season opening meet. Monticello got wins from Sam Johnson (400-meter run, long jump), Matt Grathwohl (55-meter hurdles), Andrew Mergen (1,000-meter run), Andrew Cole (triple jump) and the 4×200-meter relay team made up of freshmen Charlie Voller, Jack Hoaby, Nate Hoglund, Drew Nelson.
The Magic finished the meet with 76 points. Maple Lake finished in second place with 58 points.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]