FAIRMONT - Speed is the name of the game in high school track and field.
This year, Fairmont's boys track and field team may not have as much depth or experience in its lineup, but they will have no shortage of speed.
"This year it looks like we have good team speed," said Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk. "And in track, speed scores the most points."
IN THE STARTING BLOCKS — Members of the Fairmont Cardinals boys track and field team opening the outdoor season by playing host to St. Peter at 4:15 p.m. today at Cardinal Track in Fairmont include, front row (l-r): Dylan Eicholz, Evan Ward, Dustin Slaughter, Zac Ehlert, Jon Soucek, Kolin Kelly, Andy Lerma, Dominick Armstrong and Brian Wilde. Second row: Riley Norstrom, Nathan Willett, Andrew Moeller, Thomas Willett, Zach Brown, Dayton Nielsen, Austin Schwidder, Josh Eversman, Derek Edman and Colin Meadows. Third row: Peter Erickson, Josh Sundblad, Steven Krumholz, Peter Nielsen, Christopher Poush, Levi Bulfer, Theo Krumholz, Jarrod Daniel, Tyler Johnson and Kaleb Runge. Fourth row: Jonathan Rahn, Nate Subbert, Travis Thiesse, Anthony Shimon, Adrian Moscoffian, Kade Fritz, Alexander Bertram, Cody Lane, Devin Johnson, Jaxon Jurgens and Ben Huinker. Back row: Head coach Bob Bonk, assistant coach Cheryl Hamp, assistant coach Scott Geerdes, assistant coach Brad Johnson, assistant coach Chris Voss and assistant coach Stew Murfield. Not pictured: Chris Fausch, Kaleb Linse, Shyiem Thomas and Zac Dewitt. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
While having speed on a track and field team may seem like a no-brainer, trying to find the right balance and enough experience in 14 different events can prove to be a challenge.
"We have a good amount of sprinters this year. We are hoping to have good relays and all-around sprinters," said Bonk. "But we aren't as strong in other areas, so we'll be trying to figure that out in practice the next couple weeks."
After finishing second as a team in the South Central Conference Meet and taking fifth in the Section 2AA True Team Meet last season, the team will feature a lot of new faces hoping to improve.
"We have had 41 winning seasons on the boys' side, and so we hope that will continue this season," said Bonk. "But each season has its own challenges."
Junior Evan Ward is the lone state qualifier and the Cardinals' top points scorer that returns from last year's roster.
Seniors Zach Brown, Kolin Kelly, Brian Wilde and Derek Edman also return this season with quality varsity experience.
Sophomores Peter Erickson, Anthony Shimon, Nate Subbert and Josh Sundblad look to make a bigger impact on the varsity this season.
"Nate Subbert and Thomas Willett have run solid 400s in the past, and we have a good amount of sprinters," said Bonk. "That could mean that we have some solid relays, and our 4x400 has gone to state nine of the last 10 years. So we'd like to keep that going as well."
Zac Ehlert and Sundblad will pace the long distance crew, while Kelly leads the efforts in the pole vault.
"I think that our distance guys will be able to compete, but we aren't as deep in that area," said Bonk. "That will be a challenge against teams like Waseca who have strong distance runners."
Along with the speed, the Cardinals are looking for success in the jumps, too.
Erickson and Subbert have showed promise in the high jump, while Josh Eversman could add depth in both the long and triple jumps.
The biggest challenge facing the Cardinals will be in the shot and discus.
"The throwing events - everyone thinks they look easy, but there is a lot of technique involved," said Bonk. "We are working with some athletes on trying to learn so they can help us in that area, but those will be tough events this season."
Fairmont will face tough opponents, with the first meet of the South Central Conference schedule kicking off against St. Peter today at Cardinal Track in Fairmont.
The Blue Earth Area Invite will give Fairmont its first taste of the rest of the conference competition, including Waseca, St. Peter and Blue Earth Area on April 12 in Blue Earth.