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Boys track team exceeds expectations

Colin Vaadeland1 / 3
Jake Grimes2 / 3
John Drury3 / 3

With only six athletes returning who scored points last season, Patrick Deegan didn't know what to expect from the Park Rapids boys track and field team this spring.

Having those six plus 14 other athletes score points this season helped the Panthers exceed the expectations of their head coach.

"I thought the season went very well," said Deegan. "We overachieved in a lot of events. I was very happy with how things turned out."

The Panthers got off to a slow start before peaking at the end of the season.

Park Rapids placed 10th at the 17-team Little Amik I Invitational at Bemidji State University with 22 points and tied for 22nd at the 23-team Little Amik II Invitational at BSU with 4 points. International Falls won the Little Amik I title with 101 points and Bemidji won the title at the Little Amik II meet with 61.50 points.

In their outdoor debut, the Panthers finished 10th out of 10 teams at the Perham Invitational with 10 points. Perham took first with 166.50 points.

The Panthers scored 17 points to place ninth out of nine teams at the Park Rapids Invitational and compiled 35 points to finish eighth at the 10-team Pequot Lakes Invitational. Pequot Lakes took first at both meets by scoring 175 points at Park Rapids and 178.50 points at home.

Deegan's team began to show improvement by placing third at the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Invitational with 65 points and finishing eighth at the 17-team Section 6A True Team meet at Glyndon with 532.50 points. Bagley/Fosston won the title at Walker with 90 points while Hawley/Ulen-Hitterdal claimed the True Team title with 934.50 points.

At the Mid-State Conference meet, Pequot Lakes claimed the title with 185 points while the Panthers finished fifth out of six teams with 45 points.

The Panthers ended the season in style by claiming runner-up honors at the Subsection 8-29A meet at Park Rapids with 134 points. Bagley/Fosston won the subsection title with 145 points.

Ten athletes qualified for the Section 8A meet as the Panthers ended the season by placing 13th with 19 points. Roseau won the section title with 83.50 points.

"We didn't score many points early in the season, but we improved as the season went on," said Deegan. "The highlight of the season was taking second in the subsection and sending 10 kids to the section meet. I didn't expect that. It was an excellent way to end the season."

The combination of the contributions of the six veterans and 14 first-year varsity point producers was the key to the Panthers' success.

Returning from last year's team were seniors Jake Grimes, AJ Spears and Caleb Atkins and sophomores Brock Fritze, Forrest Drury and Scott Wolff. Sean Hayes was one of the Panthers' top point scorers last season, but had to miss his senior season with an injury.

Competing on varsity for the first time were senior John Drury; juniors Colin Vaadeland, Travis Deitchler and Taylor Kimball; sophomores Jeff Hemenway, Ryan McBrady, Logan Schmaus and Cole Tretbar; freshmen Edger Guajouda, Nick Schulz, Fred Stinar and Jake Waggoner; and eighth graders Austin Carlson and Kurt Fritze.

At the end of the season, the Panthers had three solid relay teams.

John Drury, Vaadeland, Brock Fritze and Carlson teamed up to take first at the Section 6A True Team meet and finish third at the Mid-State Conference, Subsection 8-29A and Section 8A meets.

The 4 x 400 relay team of Grimes, Brock Fritze, Forrest Drury and Carlson finished third at the conference meet, second at the subsection meet and fifth at the section meet.

Spears, Kimball, Deitchler and Forrest Drury comprised the 4 x 800 relay team that placed third at the conference meet, second at the subsection meet and seventh at the section meet.

In addition to those three relays, the Panthers qualified for the section meet in 10 other events.

Vaadeland won subsection titles in the 100 and 200 dashes and finished third in the long jump. John Drury took first in the discus and was third in the shot put. Grimes won the subsection title in the 300 hurdles and placed third in the 110 hurdles. Forrest Drury took first in the pole vault. Kimball placed third in the 1,600 run. Brock Fritze finished fourth in the 100 dash. Carlson was fourth in the 400 dash. Kurt Fritze finished fourth in the 300 hurdles.

At the section meet, John Drury finished fourth in the discus and 13th in the shot put; Vaadeland placed eighth in the 200, ninth in the 100 and 11th in the long jump; Forrest Drury was eighth in the pole vault; Grimes was 10th in the 300 hurdles and 12th in the 110 hurdles; Brock Fritze was 10th in the 100 dash; Kimball finished 12th in the 1,600 run; Carlson was 14th in the 400 dash; and Kurt Fritze was 14th in the 300 hurdles.

Also competing in the subsection meet were Spears (sixth in the 800 run), Forrest Drury (sixth in the 400 dash), Deitchler (sixth in the 3,200 run), Wolff (sixth in the triple jump, seventh in the 300 hurdles and high jump, and 11th in the long jump), Schmaus (seventh in the shot put and 17th in the discus), McBrady (ninth in the 1,600 run and 3,200 run), Carlson (ninth in the long jump), Waggoner (10th in the 1,600 run), Tretbar (11th in the triple jump), Kurt Fritze (14th in the triple jump), Atkins (15th in the shot put), Guajouda (17th in the 100 dash) and Stinar (20th in the discus). The 4 x 100 relay team of John Drury, Kimball, Kurt Fritze and Tretbar also placed sixth.

Vaadeland was named the team's Most Valuable Player after leading the Panthers in points. Vaadeland was the conference champion in the 200 dash and finished fourth in the 100 dash and fifth in the long jump at the Mid-State meet.

John Drury, who received the Coaches Award, placed fifth in the discus at the True Team meet and third in the discus at the conference meet.

Also placing at the conference meet were Grimes in the 300 hurdles (sixth), Brock Fritze in the 100 (sixth) and Carlson in the 400 (sixth). The 4 x 100 relay team of John Drury, Kimball, Kurt Fritze and Tretbar finished fifth.

Forrest Drury received the team's Most Improved award and Schmaus received the Spirit Award.

Even though the Panthers graduate four key performers, Deegan is looking for the returning athletes to lead the way to another successful season in 2011.

"Our seniors will be missed. They scored a lot of points for us," said Deegan. "We've got a good core of kids coming back. The key will be to get a few more kids out. The group of guys we had out this year was excellent. If they keep improving, we're going to be OK again next season."