FAIRMONT - The competition can be fierce on and around a track meet. Athletes try to beat their own personal bests while racing, jumping and vaulting to beat their opponents.
The competition will be some of the best that the Fairmont boys track and field team has seen all season when it plays host to the 59th Sentinel Relays on Friday at Cardinal Track.
"I think that's what is most exciting about this meet - we get to race against teams that we normally don't get to see," said Fairmont senior Josh Eversman. "There can be a lot of really good people in the events and so it will be a good test to get us ready for the championship part of the season."
DELIVERING POINTS — Fairmont track and field athletes, from left, Evan Ward, Zach Brown, Peter Erickson, Anthony Shimon, Nate Subbert and Josh Eversman, will look to generate points for the Cardinals’ boys team during the Class AA portion of the Sentinel Relays on Friday at Cardinal Track in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Despite not having the meet the last two years due to inclimate weather, the athletes are ready and hopeful that this year will be a change in recent history.
"It would be great to have the Relays this year, I know there isn't anything that we can do about the weather, but it's been a long time since we've held one," said Fairmont senior Zach Brown.
The last time that the Relays were held was 2011, with a number of the Cardinal athletes on this year's team having never competed in one of the most historic local events.
"I know that I've never competed in one," said Cardinal sophomore Peter Erickson. "The last two years they haven't ended up happening, but it is still an exciting meet to have, and I'm excited to get to be a part of them."
Eversman, Erickson, Brown, junior Evan Ward and sophomores Anthony Shimon and Nate Subbert have provided a lot of punch to the Cardinal lineup this season and their success will be key for Fairmont to win on Friday.
"We have only lost at one meet in either of the horizontal jumps this season," said Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk. "This group of guys has given us great success in a lot of events, but especially the jumps so far this season."
Eversman has finished first in all but one of the jumping events that he has entered this season, including a sixth-place finish in the long jump at the Hamline Elite Meet last Friday at Klas Stadium on the Hamline University campus in St. Paul.
Erickson and Subbert have had success for Fairmont in the high jump, and will compete against a strong competitor in Madelia/Truman/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Martin Luther senior Josh Johanson.
"Our jumpers this season have done really well," said Bonk. "The horizontal jumpers, of course, have been successful, but both of our top high jumpers have also had great meets."
For Ward, who has competed in some of the jumping events on occasion, the focus is still on the track with his hurdle races and the anchor leg of the 4x400 relay. A meet of this caliber before the final portion of the season begins could set up another state appearance for the junior.
"You always run faster when you are racing against somebody who is pushing you, but when it's a regular two- or three-team meet, sometimes there isn't anyone to push you," said Ward. "So I'm excited to get to see some really good runners and possibly reach for faster times."
Brown and his teammates also will look to push the limits in the Relays, hoping to come away with a few victories.
"One of the tougher teams that we face during the season is Waseca, they always seem to have really good relays," said Brown. "They won't be here, but to see how we stack up against some of the other tough relays in the area could be really great."
In addition to Eversman, the Cardinals also will have Shimon, who has aided in event sweeps for Fairmont with powerful jumps into the sand pits.
"Our assistant coaches do a great job every year of teaching the kids and preparing them, and this year is no different," said Bonk. "And I feel like those jumps are our super strength this season."
The Cardinals are hoping to soar right past the competition with their talented core and many others at the 59th Sentinel Relays at 4:15 p.m. Friday at Cardinal Track in Fairmont.
"This is a great way to get us ready for the championship part of the season," said Eversman. "All the meets after this one are big and really competitive and exciting."