16 boys to watch in southeastern Minnesota track and field
Century pole vaulter Nathan Nelson is among a pack of standout boys track-and-field athletes to keep an eye on out of southeastern Minnesota.
RJ Sylak, Sr., Zumbrota-Mazeppa: Sylak leaped onto the scene a year ago, winning the 200 (22.56) in the Section 1A meet and finishing second (11.22) in the 100. Sylak went on to finish third at state in the 200 (22.38) and fifth in the 200 (11.20).
Sam Backer, Sr., Chatfield: Backer is best known as a star running back in football. But he can also put on a show on the track. The powerful senior won the 100 in the Section 1A meet last year (11.17). He’ll be joined by three other Chatfield seniors this year — Isaac Erding, Eli Hopp and Thad Evans — in forming one of the state’s top 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams. That group was second at state last year in the 4x100 and third in the 4x200.
Jayce Kiehne, Jr., LFCMC: Kiehne might be on the verge of being the area’s next great 800 runner. Just a sophomore a year ago, he was timed in 1:57.76 in the state meet, good for fifth place.
Garrison Hubka, Sr., GMLOKS: Finally a senior, Hubka has been a mainstay in southeastern Minnesota as a top 1,600 runner. Hubka was second in the section meet in the race a year ago, in 4:30.58. He landed seventh at state.
Garrett Bonow, Jr., Lewiston-Altura: Bonow flexed his muscles enough to finish fourth last year at state in the shot put. He heaved it 53-3/4. Better still, he’s just a junior.
David Obst, Fr., Kasson-Mantorville: It wasn’t a lofty finish for Obst at state last year in the 3,200, him landing 12th with a 9:59.71 clocking. Obst was 14th at state in the 1,600 (4:41.05). But he got all of that done as just an eighth-grader. Obst’s future looks golden.
Peyton Byrne, Sr., Stewartville: One of the best offensive linemen in southeastern Minnesota, Byrne also one of its best shot putters. He heaved it 51-11 3/4 last year in the state meet, good for fourth.
Aaron Freier, Sr., Red Wing: Freier kept getting better and better a year ago. He finished his season by placing sixth in the state meet in the 800 (1:58.71).
Carter Anderson, Jr., Stewartville: Anderson, then a sophomore, went from clearing 6-2 in the Section 1AA meet to soaring 6-6 at state. That was good for a state championship.
Ashton Kisch, Jr., Plainview-Elgin-Millville: Kisch showed star power at last year’s state meet. He heaved the shot put 154-1, good for second place. He was even better in the section meet, with a 155-5 measurement.
Nathan Nelson, Sr., Century: Nelson turned himself into a star last year. He went 15-1 for a season-best clearance in the pole vault. At state, he soared 15 feet for second place. Nelson is the early favorite to win the state title this year.
Michael Nicometo, Sr., John Marshall: Nicometo is not just one of the top sprinters in southeastern Minnesota, but the state. At last year’s state meet he was clocked in a blazing 21.23 in the 200, good for third. He’s a serious contender for a state title this season.
Keondre Bryant, Sr., John Marshall: Bryant gives JM another sprinting star to go with Nicometo. The senior was hurt much of last track-and-field season, but when healthy he was right there with Nicometo in the 100 and 200.
Carter Holcomb, Jr., Mayo: Holcomb, one of the best wide receivers in the state, is also an elite track-and-field athlete. He went 22-3 1/2 in the long jump last year and is also one of Mayo’s top sprinters.
Adam Myren, Jr., Mayo: Myren went 6-foot-6 at the True Team meet a year ago in the high jump. That was the winning height done in the state meet, by since-graduated teammate Yaih Marial.
Mawang Garang, Jr., John Marshall: Garang sailed 42-7 a year ago in the triple jump. Bump that up just a little bit and he’ll head to state.