Scott Kolb: Great day to run around the track
When the Packers Invitational for boys and girls track was over last Saturday, the various coaches came by the pressbox to express their gratitude to the Austin folks for inviting them to town for the day.
Not only was this a highly competitive track meet for the boys and girls teams, but it was also a chance for the Austin programs to show off their beautiful facility at the Larry Gilbertson Track. I'm sure the old coach would've been proud of the track named in his honor, it's one of the finest in the state.
Teams camped out on the football practice fields adjacent to the track and made a day of it. The weather cooperated and there were some exciting performances during the meet.
After some of the Austin boys and girls ran in the rain at the Hamline Elite Meet on Friday night, there was legitimate concern about the weather the following day. Those fears were unfounded as it turned out to be near perfect weather for holding a track meet.
The fickle predictions even scared away the team from Minneapolis South from making the trip. That turned out to be their loss as the teams in attendance had an enjoyable experience.
Day on the green
Fans brought out their lawn chairs and sat back on the grass to watch some interesting competition. The runners for the Austin boys had a fine day with a number of first-place finishes and a big win in the final relay.
This is a far cry from the deteriorating conditions of the old track on the outside of the football field, which was used for many decades up until the construction of the Gilbertson Track. The atmosphere at the new track is conducive for holding larger events as they did last spring with the Big Nine Conference Meet.
Austin coaches Tony Einertson and Nancy Jones were excellent hosts for this event. The Packers boys and girls coaches were rightfully proud of the effort put forth by their athletes, and happy to be on their home track on such a nice day.
It's too bad they can't have all of their meets at the Gilbertson Track. The opposing teams seem to love coming to town for a chance to run on the track, and the members of the local media like it because they have free food in the locker room.
While most of the football fans I know want to talk about last week's NFL college draft, I've been pondering more local issues.
Ever since the announcement was made that Caledonia football coach Carl Fruechte would be stepping down, I couldn't help but think the time had arrived for the Southland Rebels and coach Shawn Kennedy.
The main powerhouse in the Three Rivers Conference has lost the legendary coach who guided them to multiple state titles. The same thing happened last year when Jim Reinhardt retired at Rushford-Peterson. Those programs will still be competitive, but they've lost what I refer to in a coach as the, "Cult of Personality."
I ran into coach Kennedy at one of the local retail outlets last weekend and he's already fired up for next season. The coach has good reason to be excited with his starting quarterback, Sam Noterman, and top receiver, Alan May, coming back in the fall.
Kennedy told me that Noterman is working out in the weight room with David Schotanus, former Rebels star who will be playing in the state all-star game this summer. That makes sense with May being the fastest wide-out in the conference, all Noterman has to do is build up his arm strength and heave the ball as far as he can down the field.
The football season is still a ways off, but I can't wait to stalk the sidelines with coach Kennedy next season. Since the Rebels have also discarded Onalaska Lutheran (Wis.) from their schedule in favor of St. James, that game won't count against them in the state rankings and maybe, they can finally be at home in the later rounds of the section playoffs.
Youth baseball try-outs
Austin All-Stars Youth Baseball will hold try-outs this weekend. The tryouts will be held at the Ellis Middle School diamonds on Saturday.
A new team of age 10-and-under will be added to the summer travel program. Registration for ages 12-and-under will be at 9 a.m.
The registration then continues for age 13 at 11:30 a.m., and age 14 starts at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. There is no charge for the try-outs.
The Austin Youth traveling programs have been highly successful in recent years with two of the teams winning state championships last summer. It won't be long and the "Boys of Summer" will take to the local diamonds.