It's the start of a new era for Geneseo boys' track and field.
It’s the start of a new era for Geneseo boys’ track and field.
With the graduation of the two most decorated track athletes in school history in Reed Vanderheyden and Nick Swartzendruber, Geneseo prepares to start a new chapter under first-year head coach Matthew Deets.
“I think the main thing is to not focus too much on the past success,” Deets said. “It’s been amazing, but we just kind of tell the guys to keep working hard and trust the process because these kind of things take time.”
In his first year as coach, Deets’ title has changed, but his role hasn’t changed much after serving as an assistant under program patriarch Don Fredericks.
The challenge Deets wants to embrace this season will be finding a way to get each athlete to reach their full potential.
“I want to see how much they are willing to go for it in races,” Deets said. “Are they willing to find that next gear and push themselves further than they think they can? I know the potential is there for many of them.
“It will be whether we can get them to that next step. Every kid motivates themselves differently. It takes some time to figure out what motives kids and through what means we can prod that motivation. It’s a fun part of the job, but a challenging one as well.”
Geneseo has several athletes returning with state experience on a team that has won three sectional titles along with a state runner-up trophy in 2016.
After falling just short of state, Deets believes Colton Pischke is ready to make a run at a state berth in hurdles this season.
A senior, Pischke fell short of reaching state in the 100-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles after finishing a fourth in each hurdles event last year.
However, Pischke has state experience as part of the Maple Leafs’ fifth-place 4x400-relay team.
Kaden Rink and Pischke return as two of the legs of the state relay team, and Neo Colter and Spencer Lindstrom make up half of Geneseo’s 4x800 relay state qualifying team.
Deets sees a young group of athletes trying to earn a place to fill in the relay teams.
“We have some younger guys who are itching for that fourth spot,” Deets said. “I’m hoping we have a few guys who ready to step up and take the lead on those open slots.”
After a strong sophomore season, Lindstrom is an athlete Deets believes can have a breakout season.
“He was running fantastic at the end of last year,” Deets said. “He’s so much stronger this season, and it is going a long way toward helping him have a great season in the 800 and 400.”
A junior, Jordan Seeley came on strong last season and has the potential to be Geneseo’s top sprinter early this season.
A sophomore, Mason Jones has already shown raw speed and leaping ability.
Having never competed in the long jump before, Jones impressed by landing a 20’ jump last season.
Deets believes Geneseo throwers are already on pace for a special season.
A senior, Billy Blaser met the state qualifying mark in his first competition of the year after finishing fourth at sectionals last season.
Deets said the throws group has already shown a lot of potential under assistant coach John Davis, and the Leafs’ Tucker Ziegenhorn and Alex McAvoy are hungry to show what they can do in the discus during the outdoor season.
“The athletes are even more motivated,” Deets said. “They have a coach who has a solid knowledge, and they really believe in him. Talking to our throwers, they are ready to get after it.”
Zach Wilson has proven he has great potential in the high jump clearing 6’ already this season, and Nathaniel Clark-Holke is leading an intriguing pole vault crew.
After a solid cross country season, underclassmen William Plumley, Justin Johnson and Rafe Morrison give Geneseo a lot of depth in the distance events.
Maple Leafs’ 2019 track roster
Coach: Matthew Deets. Assistant Coaches: Don Fredericks, John Davis, Tom Ryerson and Arthur Atwell. Managers: Ayjai Adamson, Lily Davis, Audrey Lamb, Emily Roberts, Kaitlynn Rossitto and Sarah Sebastian.
Maple Leafs’ 2019 track and field schedule
March 16 Streaks Invitational Monmouth College 1 p.m.
March 21 Friends & Family Invite Westwood Sports Complex, Sterling TBA
March 23 Illinois Top Times Ill. Wesleyan U, Shirk Center 8 a.m.
March 28 Geneseo Triangular Bob Reade Field 4:30 p.m.
April 6 UTHS Kiwanis ABC Invite Soule Bowl, East Moline 9:30 a.m.
April 9 Geneseo at Galesburg Galesburg High School 4:30 p.m.
April 12 Galesburg ABC Invite Galesburg High School 4 p.m.
April 13 Rochelle Hub Relays Rochelle High School 10 a.m.
April 26 Pekin Dragon Invitational Pekin High School 4 p.m.
May 3 John McCormick ABC Bob Reade Field 4 p.m.
May 10 NIB 12 Conference TBA 4 p.m.
May 17 Sectionals TBA TBA
May 23-25 State at Charleston TBA