Entire track team relied on for points

Amy Boldt
The senior members of the boys’ track and field team are front row, from left: Joe Snyder, Colton Boyles and Josh Lodge. Back row, from left: Jake Ballegeer, Rob Barton and Chris Bisom. Not pictured is Curt Jensen.

With the departure of three of its big guns, the Geneseo boys’ track and field team is looking to reload with fresh new talent.

“The graduation losses are heavy, but that is the nature of the beast,” said head coach Don?Fredericks. “Now we need people to step into the leadership roles. It is hard to expect one person to do that, it may take many. The cupboards aren’t bare though. We have some quality kids coming back.”

The Leafs will look to its seniors to find this leadership and experience, especially from their five returning letterwinners, Jake Ballegeer, Rob Barton, Chris Bisom, Curt Jensen and Josh Lodge.

Other senior members include Colton Boyles, Dylan Johnson and Joe Snyder.

“Leadership (is the big thing for the seniors),” said Fredericks. “I want them to lead by example and step outside their comfort zone and try new events. I have high hopes for the seniors.”

This season, coach?Fredericks sees his team spreading the wealth in the points department.

“Instead of having two or three guys pounding out the points, it will be more of a team effort and evenly spread throughout,” said Fredericks.

The seniors will receive help from the juniors, with some looking to make an impact at the varsity level for the first time.

Junior members of the squad include Michael Ashpole, Jacob Carton, Kenny?Chavez, Kenny Collis, Troy Diericks, Trent Emry, Carlisle Evans-Peck, Chad Ford, Tyler Fox, Aaron?Kotecki, Ethan Lawson, Luke Lembke, Jeremy Olson, Rob Orendorff, Ian Mattan, Jon Staab, Alex Strohmeyer and Tyler Timmerman.

“They are not sophomores anymore and they need to assume the responsibility and the leadership,” said Fredericks. “I look for these guys to step into the slots. We have some new people out, which I am excited about, but there are a lot of question marks. There is strong potential.”

Returning letterwinners for the junior class are Chavez, Collis, Ford, Fox, Kotecki, Lembke and Timmerman.

The sophomore class already has a few returning letterwinners with varsity meet experience in Billy Hamer, John Mullin, Thomas Sigwalt, Brandon Smith and Andrew Walters.

These five will look to lead with their experience the rest of the sophomore contingent which includes Shane Bormann, Andy Brush, Tim Cole, Eric Hamer, Bennett Johnson, Devin Lindquist, Mike Miller, Mike Morales, Ryan Patterson, Deven Peterson, Tanner Piepenbrink, Anthony Roome, Levi Schilling, Isaac Silver and Blake Woodbury.

“We have a lot of first year guys and I am very excited about that,” said Fredericks.

The freshmen who will get their first taste of high school track and field are Mickey Christensen, Kyle Collis, Logan Farber, Jakob Gradert, Joe Huffman, Anthony Luciani, Jesse Mohr, Kyle Reiling, Joe Schilling, Mark Sliz, Chuck Springer, Nathan Walter and Evan Wolfe.

“I look for them to learn because there is a huge learning curve and be willing to try different events,” said Fredericks. “I want them to bring a lot of enthusiasm. There are  a lot of good leaders on this team and hopefully the freshmen will learn from them.”

Like every year, the Leafs prepare to peak during championship meet season, which begins with the John McCormick Invite and ends at the state meet.

Right now on paper, Dixon is the overwhelming favorite team in conference with a very balanced team. Sterling gave the Leafs a strong run last year and returns a strong team that will be going after second, said Fredericks. It will be a fight between Geneseo and Ottawa for third.

“Our goal is to keep improving week to week and be the best we can be by championship meet season,” said Fredericks. “I am optimistic of how far the team can progress.”

With the IHSA moving into a three-class system for track and field, coach Fredericks stated it is a “open window for great things to happen” when it comes to qualifying for the state meet.

Coach Fredericks stated two weaknesses that will face the Leaf tracksters is the graduation losses and numbers.

“Our numbers aren’t anywhere close to what I want them to be,” said Fredericks. “We are battling the idea of being one-sport athletes. Depth is a question and our biggest hole is in the hurdles because they all graduated last year. We have some that will try to fill in and we will work to fill that hole.”

Expectations from year to year doesn’t change for Fredericks.

“I want them to work hard, become a true team, care about each other, take pride in what they do and their team does, be at their best and have fun, which is the most important part,” said Fredericks.

This year’s coaching staff includes Fredericks, distance coach; Dan Rakestraw, jumps/sprints; Mike Harrington, throws; and Kyle Wickwire, jumps/sprints.

Last season, Jacob Kuban, Andrew Walter, Shane Reschke, Kotecki and Billy Hamer advanced to state finals in long jump (Walter), 400-m dash (Kuban), 4x100-relay (Kotecki, Kuban, Walter, Reschke) and 4x400- relay (Kuban, Reschke,  Billy Hamer and Walter). None placed. Team placed second in NCIC; third at sectionals and the freshmen/sophomore team took second in the NCIC.

Geneseo at Knox Indoor

The Leafs opened the season in an early March 27 meet in the Knox College Indoor Meet hosted by Galesburg.

“It was a good early season test and a lot of fun,” said Fredericks. “And we got some good early season feedback.”

Leading the way for Geneseo were the pole vaulters taking the top 4 spots, followed by Jensen in the shot put with a first-place finish.

In the pole vault, Barton captured first as he cleared the bar at 12-6, followed by Nathan Walter in second at 10-0; Mattan, third at 8-6; and Kyle Collis, fourth at 7-6.

Jensen won the shot put event with a final throw of 50-8.

Bisom placed third in the 400-meter dash for the Leafs with a time of 55.80 seconds, while Ford came in third in the 1600-m run in 4:54.90.

The 4x800-m relay of Lodge, Fox, Bisom and Kenny Collis also took third in 9:05.20.

“We only took our vaulters, shot putters and distance runners,” said Fredericks. “Some highlights were Curt Jensen throwing 50 feet several times; Rob Barton vaulting 12-6; Chad Ford placing fourth in the 1600-m run and Chris Bisom, third in the 400-m dash.”

Additional Track Results

800-m run- Kenny Collis, sixth, 2:18.50; Smith, eighth, 2:23.60; Fox, 10th, 2:28.50; Chavez, 13th, 2:30.50; Piepenbrink, 17th, 2:32.40; and Strohmeyer, 23rd, 2:50.40.

1600-m run- Lodge, sixth, 5:03.80; Timmerman, 13th, 5:33.50; and Mohr, 19th, 5:56.70.

Additional Field Results

Pole vault- Sliz, 10th, 6-6.

Shot put- Patterson, 11th, 33-11.

“We want to head home from meets with smiles on our faces, proud of what we accomplished and excited about what is next,” said Fredericks.

The Leafs will be in action next at the Sterling Invitational at 9 a.m. March 14 at the Westwood Sports Complex, followed by a 5 p.m. March 17 match up in Sterling with Freeport and Harlem.