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Warriors looking to reach potential

The United North Central boys and girls track and field teams excited to compete this spring.

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Despite not having a lot of competitors, head coach Tom Smith likes the potential of the United North Central boys and girls track and field teams this spring.

Smith and his athletes are excited just to have the chance to compete this season.

“It was really tough, I think for both the athletes and myself. I have been involved with track for 26 of the last 28 years as either an athlete or a coach. It becomes part of who you are. We talk about the team being a family. They make a lot of friendships that last beyond high school. You miss out on spending that last season with the seniors that you have coached for six years and have given everything to the program. But we think about what is to come in the next season,” said Smith about having last season canceled because of COVID. “We are glad to see their faces back on the track. There is a lot of excitement right now with the season being here and we are ready to compete.”

Leading the Warriors will be seniors Devon Huttunen, Rashad Lincoln, Lydia Lillquist and Maddie Thene; juniors Crystal Haataja, Gabby Hrdlicka, Christian Johnson, Gavin Kiser, Connor Korvela, Karrin Lehto, Alessandra Matson, Maryn Pinoniemi, Jenna Seibert, Rachael Smith, Tyler Shepersky and Kylynn Warmbold; sophomores Avory Haman and Elyse Ness; and freshmen Airbella Kinnunen and Kaylie Westberg.

Shepersky captured conference, subsection and section titles competing unopposed in the wheelchair 800 and 3,200 races in 2019. Shepersky went on to win titles in both races as the only competitor at the state Class A meet and was named an All-American. Lincoln contended for a state berth in the 100 after taking second at the subsection meet and fourth at the section meet. Lincoln also placed 15th in the 200 at the section meet.

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Hrdlicka earned a trip to the state meet after winning the subsection title and taking second at the section meet in the 300 hurdles. Hrdlicka, who also was the Park Region Conference champion in that event, placed 15th at the state meet. Hrdlicka also was the subsection runner-up in the 100 hurdles and placed fourth in that event at the section meet.

Along with Hrdlicka (who also placed sixth in the 200 at the subsection meet), the other subsection competitors from 2019 for the girls were Lillquist (13th in the shot put, 13th in the discus), Thene (14th in the 400, 16th in the long jump, 17th in the triple jump); Lehto (ninth in the high jump, 19th in the long jump), Seibert (sixth in the shot put, ninth in the discus), Smith (13th in the 800), Warmbold (11th in the 800) and Ness (21st in the 200). Smith, Matson and Warmbold ran on the 4 x 800 relay team that placed fifth while Lehto and Ness ran on the 4 x 200 relay team that placed fifth. Ness also ran on the 4 x 100 relay team that finished eighth.

Lincoln was the runner-up in the 100 at the conference meet and placed fourth in the 200 and 19th in the long jump at the subsection meet while Korvela tied for eighth in the high jump, finished 10th in the 800, placed 13th in the triple jump and was 15th in the long jump at the subsection meet two years ago.

“(Our numbers) are relatively small this year,” said Smith. “I am always looking to have some good numbers as all-conference and advance to sections. I expect Gabby, Tyler and Rashad to have very good seasons and look to advance them to the state meet.”

SEASON SCHEDULE
April 22 - at Sebeka, 4 p.m.. April 27 - at Park Rapids, 4 p.m. April 29 - at Ottertail Central, 4 p.m.
May 6 - at Sebeka, 4 p.m. May 13 - at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, 4 p.m. May 18 - at Sebeka, 4 p.m.

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Related Topics: TRACK AND FIELD
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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