It seems that every successful track team has areas of strength that they build their lineup around.
That is what the Somerset Spartans are looking to find and develop early in the 2018 season.
The Spartans competed at the New Richmond Indoor Invitational last Thursday. The meet consisted of six Middle Border Conference schools. The Spartan boys tied for third place in the results while the Somerset girls placed sixth.
The Spartan teams are at different stages in their growth. The Spartan boys are now able to feature a number of juniors and seniors who can score points in most meets, while the Somerset girls are one of the younger squads in the area.
Somerset coach Terry Otradovec said the boys results from Thursday show the team is moving in the right direction.
"We're definitely ahead of where we were the last two years," Otradovec said.
Somerset's boys produced two wins, both in the field events. And in both events, the Spartans showed they have the potential to make those events team strengths. Senior Bennett Baillargeon was the champion in the triple jump with a distance of 38 feet, 6 inches. Junior James Schachtner and sophomore Ty Madden placed fourth and fifth in the event. Madden was also the second place finisher in the long jump, where Schachtner placed eighth.
The shot put is another event that could develop into a strength. Senior Justin Rivard added another victory, with a distance of 50 feet, 5 inches. With seniors Nick Northey and Zach Schmidt placing sixth and seventh, this is another event where the Spartans could consistently have multiple placewinners.
Jack Peterson is scheduled to start working in the throws this week and he could add to the depth among the shot putters. Peterson has been running in practices and he placed in the 55 and 200 in Thursday's meet.
Otradovec said one of the surprises of the season thus far has been senior Devin Leque. Leque placed fifth in the 200 meters and Otradovec said Leque looked strong in his leg in the 1,600 relay.
There's improved depth with sophomores and freshmen showing they'll have the ability to contribute on the track. Otradovec said that's most important in the relays. With the younger runners capable of forming competitive relay teams, it allows the coaches to keep the top performers in individual events, where they can maximize their points.
The Somerset girls were again led by sophomore Eve Goldstein, who finished as the champion in the shot put. She won by more than seven feet with her distance of 41 feet, 1 inch. This is an event that could also be productive for the girls. Sophomores Adrianna Meath and Brynn Kumlin, who is out for track for the first time, both showed that they could make sizeable advances this season.
The Spartans also got places in the field events from sophomore Stevie Haigh (fifth in triple jump) and junior Kaylee Erickson (sixth in high jump).
The sprints look like they'll be a steady source of points for the girls. Junior Keely Pitcher placed third in the 55 meters and freshman Jade Atkins was fourth in the 200 meters. The Spartans ran an all-freshman 800 meter relay team that showed promise, including Atkins, Grace Lambert, Carissa Rose and Abbey Skramstad.
The Spartans took a small group of athletes on Saturday to the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse. The results were quite positive, with the boys placing fifth among 10 teams and the girls tenth among 11 teams.
The shot putters earned two more wins, with Rivard winning with a mark of 48-4 and Goldstein winning at 39-2.
The boys team competed on even footing against the Twin Cities opposition. The Spartans finished third in the 3,200 relay and the sprint medley relay. Schachtner finished in third place and Baillargeon in fifth in the triple jump, with Madden fifth in the long jump.
"It was a different atmosphere. The kids responded well to being in the bigger venue," Otradovec said.
The Spartans are scheduled to compete in their first outdoor meets of this season in the upcoming days, but both of those meets are in jeopardy because of the weather. The Spartans are scheduled to compete at St. Croix Central and at Baldwin-Woodville next Tuesday, but watch for updates, because plans could change. There may also be another indoor meet for the Spartans this week. The coaches were trying to get entries into Friday's Elite Meet at UW-Stout, to make sure the team gets some competition this week.