Packers are putting in work

Published 9:05 am Saturday, June 30, 2012

It’s barely past dawn and Hastings Gym and the weight room are full at Austin High School.

In the weight room, athletes are pumping iron and in Hastings, athletes are going through the boot camp that is the new AHS Strength and Training Program that is being run by new AHS head football coach Brett Vesel this summer.

Trevor Feuerhak pushes through a drill in Hastings Gym earlier this week. -- Rocky Hulne/

“It’s the best workout I think I’ve ever gotten,” said Austin football player Gabe Gerstner, who will be a junior this fall. “It’s so much better than what we’ve ever seen here in Austin. I’m pretty impressed with what (Vesel) brought.”

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Gerstner is one of about 100 Austin student athletes who have been coming into AHS in the early mornings to get in a good workout for four days a week. The program, which has been going for three weeks and runs until the end of July, focuses on building, strength, speed and explosion and it benefits athletes in all sports.

Vesel, who has gradually developed the system over 25 years, said all of the athletes have come to work and he hasn’t heard many complaints.

“They’ve been really open to working hard. I think they want to do well in every sport they play in. We’re trying to give them a tool to get there,” Vesel said. “We’ve had very little issues with kids being tired. They know they’ve got to go to bed a little earlier and get up and work hard. Those are the kinds of kids you want to have in your programs, the kids that you don’t have to make do things.”

Ryan Synoground jumps during a speed and agility drill in Hastings Gym in Austin earlier this week. Synoground is one of about 100 AHS athletes participating in a strength and conditioning camp that runs until late July in Austin.

Austin football player Andrew Hagan, who will be a junior this fall, said it helps to have a lot of company when putting in so much work in the early mornings.

“Down in the weight room is where a team is built,” Hagan said. “You think you can’t do a certain weight, but all of your friends are there to push you and then pretty soon you can do it and you have confidence in yourself.”

While every athlete has their own motivation to get better in the sports they compete in, Gerstner and some of his football teammates have extra incentive to work hard. Gerstner’s still not over the fact that the Packers have gone winless the last two seasons and he’s ready for a change.

“What gets me going is our last season,” Gerstner said. “Our season for football, I think it was embarrassing and we need to improve. We all get better as a team here and we just want to improve.”

It’s tough enough to do some of the drills the camp requires, and it’s even tougher in the morning. But Vesel has been a constant force of motivations as AHS athletes have all been pushed to their limits.

“He won’t let anyone quit on him,” Gerstner said of Vesel. “He likes to see people finish it out and he likes to see full effort.”

With all the work they’re putting in now, the AHS athletes participating in the program, will be more than ready to compete when fall rolls around.

Austin's Pat Wagner works through a drill as AHS head football coach Brett Vesel gives directions in Hastings Gym. -- Rocky Hulne/