Packers glad to return state qualifiers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2003

A new track and returning state qualifiers makes for more enthusiasm and ultimately better performances for the Austin High School boys' track team.

The Packers return two Class AA state meet qualifiers in pole vaulter James Dammen and high hurdler Evan Sorenson to headline a list of 12 returning letterwinners for the 2003 spring season. The new track and field at Wescott has helped spur interest in a program regaining its legs.

"It's nice to have some returning state participants," said AHS coach Tony Einertson. "They kind of know what it's all about and they will certainly bring excitement to the other boys on the team."

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Dammen, a senior, topped out at 12 feet 6 inches in qualifying from the Section 1AA meet in the pole vault. He will co-captain this year's team with Sorenson and senior sprinters Mike Gravelle and Ray Bissen.

Sorenson was a surprise to the section meet but has placed expectations on himself to repeat as a state qualifier.

"I'm hoping for a Big Nine championship," Sorenson said. "Now that I know what I can do, this year I expect a lot more out of myself.

"I'm looking to do big things this year now that I'm a year older."

Einertson has 50 total competitors on the roster for what should be an improved season in AHS boys' track.

"We're looking at the middle of the pack," Einertson said of the conference race. "We want to jump up a couple spots. We've got some big meets at home this year."

Junior Carl Bauer heads the list of long distance runners for the Packers. His state qualifying effort in cross country this season has also spurred more runners to join the track squad.

"He's going to really lead the distance crew," Einertson said. "That's going to be one of our strong points this year."

Marc Forman, Brandon Downs, Kevin Groh and David Seibel all make the transition from cross country to track to add to the Packers' depth at distance running.

Sorenson will again be the top hurdler and will add all jumping field events to his repetoire.

"He's probably our best all-around athlete," Einertson said. "He's going to do whatever he can to help the team, and he'll really shine at it."

Dammen's eighth-place state finish puts the pole vault in good hands, and he will also add long jump and sprints to his list of to-dos. Ray and Tony Bissen are the top long jumpers to this point, and Taylor Schieck will get a shot to show his stuff in the high jump.

Derek and Josh Hall will both compete as sprinters for the Packers, as will newcomer Mark Cavanaugh.

Shot and discus events will give seniors Riley Brolsma and Jesse Krueger the opportunity to earn the team points again this season. Krueger is the top discus hurler right now and Brolsma leads the team in shot. Garrett Plotts will also contribute to the throws.

"We've still got the itch of what state feels like," Einertson said. "They've all kind of stepped themselves up a bit."