Rochester boys track and field preview: John Marshall looks to make a jump

The boys track-and-field programs in Rochester look as healthy as ever. That includes John Marshall, which is seeing a huge leap in participation.

John Marshall's Michael Nicometo runs in the 200-meter dash during the state Class AA boys track-and-field meet Saturday, June 19, 2021, at St. Michael-Albertville High School in St. Michael.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo


Head coach: Michael Sonnabend. Assistants: Brandon Stanek, Luke Fisher, Justin Rein, Kyle Riggott, Wilmon Lundi, James Dammen, Ray Ashworth, Dan Feda, Fred Farrand, Sam Sonnabend, Eddie Bryson.

Last season: Eighth in Big Nine meet, eighth in Section 1AAA meet. Michael Nicometo won the 100 and 200 in the Big Nine meet and was third in the 200 at state.

Key returners: Sr. Michael Nicometo (sprints); Sr. Keondre Bryant (sprints); Jr. Mawang Garang (long jump, triple jump).

Outlook: Things are looking extremely sunny for the Rockets. Much of that is based on how many athletes they have out for the sport — a whopping 178. There is some serious talent there, too, led by senior sprinters Michael Nicometo and Keondre Bryant. They’re among the top sprinters in the state, with Nicometo having placed third at state last year in the 200 (21.23). Bryant was hurt much of last season but when healthy was running similar times as Nicometo. JM figures to have great 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams with those two and some other fast athletes to choose from. Two more strong talents are junior triple/long jumper Mawang Garang and distance runner Iestyn Zapata. There is also a large crop of throwers showing promise. JM has a chance to push toward the top of the Big Nine Conference.

Coach Michael Sonnabend says: “The huge jump in numbers and additions to our coaching staff has created excitement at all levels in our program. A large group of kids — in all events — trained throughout the off-season and were ready for the season to begin. If some new additions to the program can step in and perform like we think they can, we should see a big team improvement. There are lots of smiles at JM right now.”



Head coach: Donny Holcomb. Assistants: Cory Urban, Bob Sheehan, Jered Smiley, Jeff Schlichter, Matthew Olson, Ahn McGeeney, Breadon Mengis, Leah Speltz, Kristie Kinneberg.

Last season: Second in Big Nine meet, reached True Team state meet, second in Section 1AAA meet. School records in the 4x100 and 4x200 and Noah Smith was fifth at state in the 200.

Key returners: Jr. Calvin Baul (sprints); Jr. Carter Holcomb (long jump, hurdles, sprints); Sr. Ethan Kramer (shot put); Jr. Ryan Gwaltney (800, 1,600); Jr. Lucas Olson (800, 1,600); Jr. Adam Myren (high jump).

Mayo High School High Jump
Mayo Sophomore Adam Myren on Friday, May 27, 2022, outside Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

Outlook: Things are also looking incredibly sunny for the Mayo track-and-field program. The Spartans have 180 boys out for the sport. That includes junior Adam Myren who sailed 6-feet-6 in the high jump last year. Also back is star jumper/sprinter/hurdler and fellow junior Carter Holcomb, one of the top wide receivers in the state. Holcomb cleared 22-3 1/2 last year in the long jump. The Spartans also have a strong thrower in senior Ethan Kramer. One person who was a star a year ago, sprinter Noah Smith, graduated last spring. Mayo finished second in the Big Nine meet and the Section 1AAA meet in 2022. Expect a similar result this season.

Coach Donny Holcomb says: “We have a great group of athletes from all different sport backgrounds who are great teammates and also great competitors. It's going to be fun to teach them the events and watch them improve throughout the season.”


Head coach: Pete Gilman. Assistants: Demonte Nelson, Joe Lonzo.

Last season: Fourth in the HVL meet, sixth in Section 1A meet. Kevin Turlington the 1,600 and 3,200 champion in the section meet (fifth in the 3,200 at state, eighth in the 1,600). Boys 4x200 relay team fifth at state.

Key returners: Jr. Will Roth (shot put, discus); Sr. Gerald Lonzo (sprints); Sr. Hudson Fix (sprints).


State Class A Track and Field Finals
Lourdes’ Gerald Lonzo competes in the boys 4x200 meter relay during the state Class A track-and-field meet on Friday, June 10, 2022, at St. Michael-Albertville High School in St. Michael.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

Outlook: Lourdes graduated one of its top distance runners ever a year ago, Kevin Turlington. But other than him, and sprinters Nathan Renier and Abe Gapinski, the Eagles return the bulk of last year’s team. Included are strong sprinters Gerald Lonzo and Hudson Fix. The Eagles have a new head coach, Pete Gilman having taken over in the wake of longtime coach Steve Strickland having stepped down last year. Gilman has some strong talent to work with. Likely to make big splashes again are Lourdes’ relay teams, as has become its tradition.

Coach Gilman says: “Our senior leaders have set the tone in practice and in our first meet. We have a hard-working group of athletes, some of whom plan to compete in college. If we continue to progress we will have success in late May and early June when it really counts.”


Head coach: Eric Gahr. Assistant coaches: Demarius Pitts, Chris Whitfield, Paul Callahan, Jens Boyum, Stacy Fox, Ray Ashworth, Alexandra O'Connel.

Last season's highlights: Fourth in Big Nine meet, fifth in Section 1AAA meet. Max Comfere set school records in the 100 (10.62), 200 (21.21) and 400 (48.69). Comfere was also second at state in the 100 (10.62) and second in the 200 (21.21). Nathan Nelson was second at state in the pole vault (15 feet, school record). The Century 4x200 relay team of Chris Garcia-Lara, Damian Gerads, Tyler White and Max Comfere set a school record (1:27.84). White ran a 1:57.96 800 (second all-time at Century) and John Amusan a 15.00 100 hurdles (.01 shy of school record).

Key returners: So. Chris Garcia-Lara (sprints); So. Josh Kyei-Baffour (hurdles); Jr. Shaun Wysocki (triple jump); Sr. Nathan Nelson (pole vault); Sr. Richard Kariuki (distance); Jr. John Shannon (throws).

Century's Nathan Nelson competes in the pole vault during the state Class AA boys track-and-field meet Saturday, June 19, 2021, at St. Michael-Albertville High School in St. Michael.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo

Outlook: The Panthers are going to miss Max Comfere, especially, who graduated last spring after turning in the most spectacular running season ever at Century. But there is still plenty of talent here, led by a pack of sprinters, sophomore Chris Garcia-Lara tops among them. The Panthers also may have the best pole vaulter in the state, senior Nathan Nelson. A state runner-up last year, Nelson has already cleared 15-feet-6 1/4 indoors this season after topping out at 15 feet last year. Shaun Wysocki, a basketball star, is also a standout triple jumper who has already cleared 42-2 1/2 this season. Century should be strong in all of the jumps. And Richard Kariuki and Aaron Zhao give the Panthers a couple of solid distance runners. . .Century has a new head coach this year, Eric Gahr. He replaces Kyle Riggott, who is now an assistant track-and-field coach at John Marshall. Gahr had previously been coaching track and field at Eden Prairie.

Coach Gahr says: “Coming from a large-school program the last seven years of my coaching career, it's been a pleasure to begin working with this young group of talented men where they value ‘team’ and work hard with limited resources without complaints. They understand success comes from consistent progress and are highly motivated to keep pushing the bar to the next level. I see so much talent from this group, and their willingness to be ‘the next man up’ gives me hope for success at all levels this season.”

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or
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