Panthers improved, surpassed goals
Entering the season, Patrick Deegan set three goals for the Park Rapids boys track and field team.
The first was to repeat as Subsection 8-29A champions. The second was to finish in the top five at the Section 8A meet. The third was to send multiple athletes to the state Class A meet.
The Panthers fulfilled all three of those goals.
A solid team effort helped the Panthers easily repeat as subsection champs before another solid team effort helped the Panthers finish fourth at the section meet. Highlighting the season was having three individuals qualify for the state meet in four events. Senior Forrest Drury tied for sixth in the pole vault and freshman Isaac Overmyer placed ninth in the 3,200-meter run to bring home state medals. Sophomore Austin Carlson finished 13th in the 400 dash and 20th in the 200 dash at the state meet.
"Things went better than expected," said Park Rapids head coach Patrick Deegan. "We met all our goals. We won subs, we finished in the top five at sections and we sent people to state. It was an excellent season."
In addition to the three state qualifiers, Deegan received consistent contributions from the other letterwinners: seniors Jordan Bergquist, Robert Borger, Brock Fritze, Sam Goebel, Corey Joslyn, Ryan McBrady, Brandon Ritter, Logan Schmaus, Levi Stevenson, Cole Tretbar and Scott Wolff; juniors Edger Guajardo, Aaron Hamblin, Ben Kading and Jake Waggoner; sophomores Spencer Adolphson, Caleb Gorder, Jared Kantonen and Noah MacPherson; and freshmen Ben Baumgartner, Tyler Breitweser and Zach Tretbar.
In their indoor debuts at Bemidji State University, the Panthers finished 11th out of 22 teams at the Paul Bunyan Invitational with 23 points and 14th at the 28-team Little Amik Invitational with 16 points. Bemidji won both meets with 88 points and 99 points.
In the outdoor opener, the Panthers placed third at the nine-team Perham Invitational with 76 points. Perham took first with 114 points.
The Panthers claimed the title at the seven-team Park Rapids Lions Invitational with 172 points and followed by taking third at the nine-team Park Rapids Enterprise Invitational with 121 points. Detroit Lakes won that meet with 224.50 points.
At the Walker May Day Invitational, the Panthers earned runner-up honors with 114 points. The host Wolves took first in this eight-team meet with 141 points.
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton won the team title at the 15-team Crookston Invitational with 115 points while the Panthers finished sixth with 53 points.
After placing seventh at the eight-team Detroit Lakes Invitational with 40 points (Moorhead took first with 198.50 points), the Panthers returned to Detroit Lakes and finished eighth at the nine-team Section 8AA True Team meet with 251.50 points. Carlson won the 400 to account for the Panthers' only first-place finish. Little Falls won the team title with 456 points.
At the Mid-State Conference meet, the Panthers finished third with 99 points, trailing Detroit Lakes' 175.50 and Staples-Motley's 104.50. Carlson (in the 400) and Overmyer (in the 1,600) earned all-conference honors by placing first while Carlson (in the 200), Wolff (in the triple jump), Cole Tretbar (in the shot put) and the 4 x 200 relay team of Fritze, Goebel, Drury and Carlson earned all-conference honorable mention honors by finishing second. The third-place finish was the best for the Panthers at the conference meet since placing second in 2005.
The Panthers then repeated as subsection champs as 14 individuals qualified for the section meet. Park Rapids compiled 213 points to easily defeat W-H-A's 153.50 for the title in this seven-team meet.
Claiming subsection titles were Drury in the 100 and pole vault, Carlson in the 200 and 400, Wolff in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and triple jump, and Cole Tretbar in the shot put. The 4 x 200 relay team of Fritze, Goebel, Drury and Carlson also took first as did the 4 x 800 relay team of McBrady, Adolphson, Baumgartner and Joslyn. Adding runner-up showings were Frtize in the 200, Carlson in the long jump, Overmyer in the 1,600 and 3,200, and Ritter in the shot put and discus. Cole Tretbar also took third in the discus while Fritze was third in the 400.
Led by the three state qualifiers, the Panthers finished fourth at the section meet with 54.50 points. Roseau won the section title with 108 points. The fourth-place showing was the best for the Panthers since placing third in 2002.
Carlson won the 400 and was the runner-up in the 200 to earn his first trips to state. Drury also earned his first state berth as the section runner-up in the pole vault while Overmyer earned his first state berth as the runner-up in the 3,200 run.
Also placing for the Panthers at the section meet were Cole Tretbar in the shot put (fourth); the 4 x 800 relay team of McBrady, Adolphson, Baumgartner and Joslyn (fourth); Fritze in the 400 (fifth); Ritter in the discus (sixth); and Wolff in the 300 hurdles (tied for sixth) and triple jump (eighth).
At the state meet, Drury and Overmyer placed in the top nine to give the Panthers 3.50 points while Carlson missed advancing to the finals in the 200 and 400.
"I was really pleased with the kids' efforts," said Deegan. "They worked hard and their times and distances improved all year, which is what you look for."
Wolff received the team's MVP award after placing in the two hurdles races, the high jump and the triple jump in the same meet five times. Wolff won three titles in the triple jump and two titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles during the season.
Carlson won eight titles in the 400 and two titles in the 200 while adding three runner-up finishes in the 200 and two runner-up showings in the 400. Carlson also placed in the long jump in three meets. Carlson also placed in the 4 x 200 relay in three meets, the 4 x 400 relay in four meets and 4 x 800 relay in one meet.
Drury received the Coaches Award and won one title in the pole vault while placing in that event in nine other meets. Drury also placed in the 4 x 200 relay and 4 x 400 relay in three meets each and in the 400 three times and in the 100 and 200 once.
Fritze received the Spirit Award after placing three times in both the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relays as well as placing in the 200 three times and in the 400 five times.
Overmyer was named the team's Hardest Worker after winning two titles in the 1,600 and three titles in the 3,200. Overmyer also placed in the 4 x 800 relay once.
Waggoner, who was named the Panthers' Most Improved, advanced to the section meet in the 1,600 and 3,200 with a pair of fourth-place finishes at the subsection meet. Waggoner placed in both races in the same meet four times.
Cole Tretbar and Ritter led the throwers. Tretbar won two titles in both the shot put and discus while placing in those events in the same meet five times. Ritter placed in both events in the same meet four times.
Bergquist placed in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays and placed in the long jump in three meets, including a seventh-place showing at the subsection meet.
Goebel placed in the 4 x 800 relay five times, in the 4 x 400 relay three times and in the 4 x 200 relay twice. Goebel also placed in the 800 once and finished seventh in the 300 hurdles at the subsection meet.
Gorder placed in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays four times each, placed in the 100 twice and finished sixth in the long jump and seventh in the 200 at the subsection meet.
McBrady, Adolphson, Baumgartner and Joslyn finished fourth in the 4 x 400 relay at the subsection meet. Baumgartner finished fifth in the 800 to advance to the section meet while McBrady finished sixth in the 800, Adolphson finished sixth in the pole vault and Joslyn finished seventh in the 800 at the subsection meet. Baumgartner also placed in the 1,600, Joslyn placed in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays, and Adolphson placed in the 800 during the season.
Kantonen placed in the triple jump in three meets, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at the subsection meet to qualify for the section meet.
Kading, Hamblin, Guajardo, MacPherson, Breitweser and Zach Tretbar provided depth in the sprint relays. Breitweser also placed in the 400 in four meets (including an eighth-place finish at the subsection meet) while Tretbar took eighth in the 300 hurdles at the subsection meet. MacPherson also placed in the 100 and 200 before missing the end of the season with a hamstring injury.
Schmaus, Stevenson and Borger provided depth in the throwing events.
Even though the Panthers will lose a lot of talent and depth with the graduation of the 12 seniors, Deegan is counting on the returning athletes to improve and make a run of duplicating the success of this year's team.
"It's tough losing 12 seniors, but we have a lot of good kids coming back," said Deegan. "We'll have some experience coming back and hopefully the younger kids will continue to improve. It's going to be a bit of a rebuilding year, but we're going to have some individuals who are going to be very successful for us."