Boys Track and Field: Park Rapids expecting another exceptional season
With plenty of talent and depth, the Panthers seek to win conference, section titles.
PARK RAPIDS – After capping off last season in historic fashion, the Park Rapids boys track and field team is looking to make more history this season.
The Panthers closed out last season by breaking the school record and winning the state Class A title in the 4 x 800-meter relay. That was the first state title in a relay in the history of the Park Rapids boys track and field program.
With a veteran cast returning, head coach Andrew Lachowitzer is looking for his team to produce more memorable moments this spring.
Returning letterwinners for the Panthers are seniors Darryl Etter, Parker Harmon, Tristan Hill, Logan Jackson, Sam Reish, Kaleb Stearns, Zach Van Batavia and Kiergon Wilkins; juniors Eli Bervig, Matt Dahring, Pierce DeBlieck, Luke Hartung, Blaine Hensel and Cameron Runyan; sophomore Noah Huot; freshmen Ephraim Bervig, Thomas Lopez and Landon Strasburg; and eighth grader Jaydon Walen. Harmon, Hill, Stearns and VanBatavia will serve as captains.
That group helped the Panthers repeat as Subsection 8-29A champs and top the field at the Section 8A True Team meet while placing ninth at the state Class A True Team meet. Park Rapids also just missed winning the Section 8A title with 78 points as East Grand Forks topped the 27-team field with 79 points.
“After a great season last year, we fully expect to keep the momentum going this season,” said Lachowitzer. “From a team perspective, this might be the deepest team we have ever had. We should be very strong in almost every event.”
Stearns and Eli Bervig return from the state champion 4 x 800 relay unit while Hill (11th in the discus and 12th in the shot put) also scored points as the Panthers tied for 29th place with 12 points at the state meet. Stearns also returns from the 4 x 400 relay team that finished 15th at the Class A meet.
Pequot Lakes won the Mid-State Conference title with 123 points as Park Rapids finished second in the five-team meet with 87 points. Back after earning all-conference honors with winning efforts are Hill (discus); Jackson, Hill and Walen (4 x 100 relay); and Stearns and Eli Bervig (4 x 800 relay). Hill (200); Stearns (400); Dahring, Runyan, Walen and Hartung (4 x 200 relay); and Dahring and Stearns (4 x 400 relay) are back after posting runner-up finishes.
Returning after leading the Panthers with winning performances to claim the title at the Section 8A True Team meet with 514 points are Huot (1,600 and 3,200); Jackson, Runyan and Walen (4 x 100 relay); Hartung and Walen (4 x 200 relay); Dahring and Stearns (4 x 400 relay); and Eli Bervig, Harmon and Stearns (4 x 800 relay).
The boys are coming into the season with very high expectations. They want to make this season a truly exceptional year.
Park Rapids dominated the Subsection 8-29A meet by compiling 212 points to capture the title for the ninth time in the last 10 years. Returning after turning in winning efforts are Hill in the shot put and discus as well as Walen, Hill and Stearns in the 4 x 200 relay; Stearns in the 4 x 400 relay; and Eli Bervig and Stearns in the 4 x 800 relay. Also qualifying for the Section 8A meet last season were Lopez (sixth in the 800); Etter (third in the 3,200); Runyan (third) and Walen (fourth) in the 100; Runyan in the 200 (fourth); Huot (third), Eli Bervig (fifth) and Hensel (sixth) in the 1,600; DeBlieck (third in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles); Jackson in the high jump (second); Dahring in the pole vault (third); Walen in the long jump (fourth); VanBatavia in the triple jump (fourth); Hartung in the discus (third) and shot put (fourth); Walen, Hill and Jackson in the 4 x 100 relay (second); and Walen, Hill and Stearns in the 4 x 200 relay (second).
Winning efforts by Hill in the shot put and discus and the 4 x 800 relay team paced the Panthers to runner-up honors at the Section 8A meet. The 4 x 400 relay team added a runner-up finish. Just missing state trips were Etter in the 3,200 (fourth) and Hartumg in the discus (fourth). The 4 x 100 relay team featuring Walen, Hill and Jackson finished fourth as did the 4 x 200 relay unit featuring Walen, Hill and Stearns.
The other section competitors returning from last season are Huot (fifth in the 1,600), DeBlieck (sixth in the 300 hurdles and 15th in the 110 hurdles), Runyan (10th in the pole vault, 15th in the 200, 16th in the 100), Eli Bervig (11th in the 1,600), Hensel (12th in the 1,600), Hartung (12th in the shot put), Jackson (13th in the high jump), Dahring (13th in the pole vault), Walen (14th in the long jump, 15th in the 100) and VanBatavia (14th in the triple jump).
Among the athletes looking to help fill the spots left by the graduation of the other members of the state champion 4 x 800 relay team (Lane Monaghan and Nathaniel Bervig) are seniors Sam Warne and Anthony Reese; juniors Jayson Ward, Wyatt Tischer, Malachi Martin and Logan Manuum; and freshmen Aiden Maanum, Leo Kaufenberg, D’Andre Johnson, Gannon Hrdlicka and Jarrett Galzki; and seventh grader Asher Bervig.
“The boys are coming into the season with very high expectations,” said Lachowitzer. “They want to make this season a truly exceptional year. Many boys put in tons of work in the offseason to get ready for a standout season.”
With plenty of depth and talent in each event, Lachowitzer is looking forward to the Panthers contending for section titles and having multiple athletes reaching the podium at the state meet as track and field expands from two classes to three classes this season.
“A few goals the boys have are to win our conference meet, be True Team section champs, and win our subsection and our section. Our goal is to head back to True Team state this season. Even though we got moved up to AA for True Team, we believe we not only can compete, but have a great chance to go to state if we can put our potential onto the track. We are very excited about the challenge,” said Lachowitzer. “For individuals, I feel that we have a great chance to send many individuals to sections and the state meet. If we hit our potential, we have many events in which we can be on the podium. It is truly a blessing to get to coach a group that wants to be pushed and to aim sky high this season. We are excited for a great season. It should be lots of fun.”