Track and Field: United North Central looks to send athletes back to state
The Warriors expect another successful season with the return of 19 letterwinners.
SEBEKA – With 19 returning letterwinners, head coach Tom Smith is expecting a successful season from the United North Central boys and girls track and field teams.
The boys team has seven letterwinners returning, led by seniors Tyler Shepersky, Christian Johnson, Connor Korvela and Gavin Kiser. Junior Xander Lincoln, sophomore Casey Blixt and freshman Riley Livingston also return.
For the girls, 12 letterwinners are back to lead the way. That group features seniors Gabby Hrdlicka, Alessandra Matson, Jenna Seibert, Hope Shepersky, Rachael Smith, Janie Tormanen and Kylynn Warmold; juniors Avory Haman and Elyse Ness; sophomore Kaylie Westberg; and freshmen Ellie Ness and Mattea Smith.
Shepersky and Hrdlicka capped off last season by competing at the state Class A meet.
Shepersky won the 1,600-meter wheelchair race and the 3,200 wheelchair race at the Park Region Conference meet and won both races along with the 100-meter race at the Subsection 6-22A and Section 6A meets. Shepersky was the state champion in the two distance races while placing fourth in the 100.
Hrdlicka topped the field in the 300 hurdles and was the runner-up in the 100 hurdles at the conference meet before taking first in the 100 hurdles and second in the 300 hurdles at the subsection meet. At the section meet, Hrdlicka was the champion in the 100 hurdles and placed fifth in the 300 hurdles. Hrdlicka capped off the season by placing 11th at state in the 100 hurdles.
Also placing for the girls, who finished fifth at the conference meet, were Tormanen in the 400 (fourth); Seibert in the discus (fifth); Westberg in the 1,600 (sixth); and Mattea Smith in the 800 (sixth). Rachael Smith, Warmbold, Shepersky and Mattea Smith placed third in the 4 x 800 relay; Elyse and Ellie Ness ran on the 4 x 200 relay team that took fifth; and Matson, Mattea Smith and Tormanen ran on the 4 x 400 relay that finished fifth.
For the boys, Johnson, Blixt and Korvela ran on the winning 4 x 100 relay in leading the Warriors to sixth place at the conference meet. Korvela finished second in the long jump, third in the 1,600 and fifth in the triple jump while Johnson was fifth in the 400.
At the subsection meet, UNC placed fifth in the boys meet with Blixt (sixth in the 100), Johnson (fourth in the 400), Korvela (second in the long jump, fourth in the 1,600), Livingston (10th in the 1,600), Kiser (10th in the discus, 17th in the shot put) and Lincoln (20th in both the discus and shot put) competing. Johnson, Blixt and Korvela also ran on the winning 4 x 100 relay team.
Helping the UNC girls place sixth at the subsection meet were Elyse Ness (16th in the 100, 18th in the 200), Ellie Ness (19th in the 100, 20th in the 200), Tormanen (sixth in the 400, eighth in the high jump, tied for 10th in the long jump), Shepersky (ninth in the 400), Matson (eighth in the 800), Mattea Smith (12th in the 800), Rachael Smith (16th inthe 800), Westberg (seventh in the 1,600), Haman (ninth in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles), and Seibert (second in the discus, fifth in the shot put). Rachael Smith, Warmbold, Shepersky and Mattea Smith also ran on the 4 x 800 relay that took fifth.
At the Section 6A meet, the UNC boys finished ninth with Johnson, Blixt and Korvela just missing a state berth by running on the 4 x 100 relay unit that placed third. Korvela placed sixth in the 1,600 and seventh in the long jump while Johnson was ninth in the 400. Seibert finished seventh in the discus and 14th in the shot put as the Warriors placed 13th in the girls meet.
Looking to contribute on varsity this season will be seniors Alec Aho and Gunnar Tollefson; junior Alex Treinen; sophomores Brianna George and Teagen Lee; freshman Anjalie Aho; eighth grader Miley Westberg; and seventh graders Elsa Kommpa, Gene Morter and Emma Ness.
“I think we are always looking to improve on our PRs throughout the season. We did very well accomplishing that last year as the season went on. We got better each meet for almost all season,” said Smith. “Track is going to a three-class system this year and we had some section realignment and with that we gained some more competition from some teams. You never know what the section meet will bring for competition and where your athletes and team will end up. I have already seen some excitement from the athletes as we get started. That electricity is catchy and gets everyone charged to start a new season and see where it brings you. I am hoping we can move up in the conference placings compared to last year, stay healthy and have some fun competing. We are hoping to send a few back to state this year.”