The track and field season is scheduled to get under way this week for the Watertown-Mayer boys’ and girls’ teams, and with a bevy of talented athletes returning from a highly-decorated 2012 team, the Royals appear poised to have even more success in 2013.
Eighteen letterwinners return for the Watertown-Mayer boys’ team this year and seven for the girls’ team. Included in that group are five girls that earned all-conference honors last year in the Minnesota River Conference, and two boys who did the same. The Royals also return four girls who competed on Watertown-Mayer’s second-place team at the state meet last year, as well as two boys who competed at state in the 4×200 meter relay and another in the high jump.
“Both the boys’ and the girls’ team return strong state meet experience, and with the addition of several new upperclassmen, this should be a fun season,” said Rich Winter, who is entering his 38th year of coaching the Royals. He will once again be the co-head coach along with Rod Janikula, who is in his ninth season.
The biggest loss on the girls’ side will be Marissa Janning, who was the state champ in the 300-meter hurdles and as part of the 4×800-meter relay team. However, the Royals do return senior Hannah Johnson, junior Liz Miller and freshman Katie Heilman from that relay team. Heilman also finished fourth at state in the 400 meters and Caitlin Duske also finished third in the triple jump. The Royals had only five girls compete at the state meet last year, but still finished in second place in the team standings.
All-conference athletes that return for the girls’ team include Duske (triple jump), Heilman (long jump), and Johnson, Heilman and Lydia Fails as part of the 4×800 relay. Other returning letterwinners not yet mentioned include Anna Phearman, who went to state as an alternate in the 4×800 relay last year, and Karen Vanderlinde.
On the boys’ side, the biggest lost will Drew Walstrom, who anchored the Royals’ sprints, including the 4×200 relay team that qualified for state. However, senior Dan Raiter and junior Nick Hix both return from that state-qualifying squad which broke the school record in the event during the season. Hunter Hulley also returns after qualifying for state in the high jump last year, the same event in which he also earned all-conference honors.
Raiter was an honorable-mention all-conference winner last year. Other returning letterwinners for the boys’ team not already mentioned include Jay Boerner, Colin Bryan, Caleb Fails, Casey Fails, Shawn Wasser, Ian Klas, Josh Loomis, Jesse Bushman, Dillon Derner, Josh Oak, Matt Pysick, Ethan Thonn, Ryne Alger, Mike Burns and Jon Vouk.
Last year, the girls team placed second in the Minnesota River Conference and the boys’ finished sixth. Winter said he believes both teams are capable of finishing in the top three or four this year. Winter said he expects Blake, Minnehaha Academy, Breck, Mayer Lutheran and his own Watertown-Mayer team to push each other for the top spots in the section. He pointed to Blake as the section favorite on the boys’ side, with his own team probably somewhere in the top 5. Winter said that finding scoring balance would be one of the team’s top goals this year, along with having fun and finding events for everyone to participate.
Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]