AUSTIN EDITION - Sorenson leads way
Austin senior qualified for state in three events a year ago
By Guy N. Limbeck
Austin High boys track coach Tony Einertson hopes the Packers can play a good game of follow the leader this spring.
In senior Evan Sorenson the Packers have a standout to build their season around. Sorenson competed in three state events a year ago and has already signed a letter of intent to continue his track career at North Dakota State University.
"We're obviously looking for big things from him," Einertson said. "He's going to be the top returning hurdler in the conference."
Sorenson placed sixth in the state in the 110-meter high hurdles as a junior. He was eighth in the state in the 300 hurdles and tied for ninth in the pole vault. He will also run in a relay and be given a chance to compete in a couple of other open events during the regular season.
Sorenson is one of 46 boys out for track in grades 9-12. The Packers have been increasing numbers steadily since the opening of their new track two seasons ago.
"The program's getting to be where the boys and girls have about 100 combined, which is a pretty good total," Einertson said.
The coach also says the quality continues to improve as well. The Packers have several other top returners from a year ago.
Mark Cavanaugh was third in the section meet in the 400 dash last year as a junior. He will have to run with a cast on his right hand most of the season as he is scheduled for thumb surgery, from a football injury, on April 5.
"The first couple of week's he's looked good," Einertson said.
Junior David Larson finished in the top eight of the section meet in both the 400 dash and the long jump a year ago.
"He's another guy that we need to take the next step up," Einertson said.
Senior Carl Bauer returns as Austin's top distance runner. He went to the state cross country meet as a junior, but battled injuries this past fall. Two other strong distance runners back are junior Kevin Groh and sophomore David Seibel. Seibel was eighth in the section in the 1,600 last spring.
Sophomore Brian Forman and junior Ojulu Ogilla give the Packers good depth in the distance events.
Einertson likes the potential of his sprinters, but admits they are still young. Junior Tony Bissen competed in a pair of sprint relays at the section meet a year ago. Sophomores Josh Hall and Josiah Ryks are other top sprinters. The Packers may also get a boost from Nate Johnson. Johnson also plays baseball, but plans to run in as many track meets as possible. The senior has not been out from track before, but was Austin's fastest football player last fall.
"Baseball is going to come first," Einertson said. "But it's something he wants to try."
Another first-year competitor, junior Alex Kaiser, could help the Packers in the high jump. Senior Richard Thies and junior Anthony Oldfather should be key long and triple jumpers.
The Packers do not have any returning shot put or discus throwers.
"That's an area we must improve as the season goes on," Einertson said.
The coach believes the Packers can finish as high as third in the Big Nine. Mankato West and East are the teams to beat in the conference.
Einertson also said a goal for Austin is to capture the Section One true team meet and advance to state as a team. The Packers are in Class AA this year after competing in AAA in a year ago.
"I'd certainly like to get the team to the state true team meet," Einertson said.
He also hopes to qualify as many individuals as possible for the Class AA state meet. The Packers should be in good shape, if they follow Sorenson's lead.