RED WING — When it comes to athletics, muscles used in football may not directly apply to basketball, those in volleyball may not be the same as hockey. So when spring rolls around, student athletes from a variety of sports congregate to the track and field team and enjoy a wide spectrum of training.
Some of the athletes consider track and field their primary sport, others use it as a tool to train for an upcoming season. While students are missing out on their respective spring sport this year, track and field athletes are also missing out on the opportunity to team up with others who may not be in other sports with them.
“In Red Wing we are fortunate that our kids are active in a lot of different sports,” head girls’ track and field coach Jesse Nelson said. “When they are doing different sports, they’ve been able to feed off each other in so many different ways.”
“Seeing everyone every day at the track is something that I took for granted and now I wish I hadn’t,” Red Wing senior Carolyn Hanson said.
Hanson added that she’s made many friends from other schools that she enjoyed hanging out with at meets. Anyone who has been to a section or conference track and field meet will notice the tents each school sets up. It’s not uncommon to see athletes from different schools stopping by each other's tents to say hello.
“The past couple of years we’ve gotten to be really good friends with Austin and Northfield kids,” senior Gage Senty said. “So we’d all hop in a tent and start watching movies on someone’s phone or computer if they brought one while we had downtime.”
Although some of the athletes' favorite parts of the season have been taken away by the pandemic, the friendships and accomplishments they’ve made can’t be.
Last year Red Wing went to state in three events: Grace Johnson in the 3,200-meter run; Cadence Thorson, Ella Scott, Emily Hart and Tyler McGrath in the 4x200-meter relay; and McGrath, Hanson, Thorson and Elle Thorson in the 4x100-meter relay.
The 4x200 took second place at state that also broke a school record. For this year’s class of seniors, the 4x100 and 3,200 will be remembered most.
Johnson, a senior this year, took fourth place at state after taking second place in the Section 1AA meet. She also took first place in the 3,200 at the Big 9 Conference Championships.
In the 4x100, current seniors Hanson and Elle Thorson made school history by setting a new record of 49.41 seconds.
“That relay was probably my most proud moment in track,” Hanson said. “It was something that we all had been working so hard for and it was really just a big team success.”
Hanson said she thought the relay had a good chance to return to state this year since only one senior from 2019 was on the team and there were capable replacements waiting in the wings.
With Elle Thorson returning in sprints and hurdles, there was a good opportunity for Red Wing to be well represented at state.
On the boys’ team, head coach Tony Casci said he was looking forward to the leadership of seniors Dylan Anderson, Daniel Byers, Zachary Hofius, Gage Senty and Kaleb DeWall.
“Kaleb Dewall and Gage Senty have been strong throwers for us year in and year out,” Casci said. “Gage has made a name for himself as a weightlifter too so that obviously helps with throwing the disc and the shot. Kaleb has been a terrific multi-sport athlete and terrific asset for us in the throwing ring as well.”
Although the track is open for public use, specialty equipment needed for throwers, jumpers or pole vaulters is tough to come by. Senty and DeWall have still found a way to train though.
“I’m really good friends with Kaleb and both of us each have our own equipment,” Senty said. “So we’re up there pretty regularly throwing, getting in our throws and everything. Trying to make up for the season.”
Looking back on his accomplishments, Senty pointed to the conference meet last spring where he took first place in discus with a personal best throw of 150 feet, 7inches.
Casci was also looking forward to seeing if the 4x800 relay could make it to state. Last year the relay team took third place at the section meet, missing the state qualifying time by under five seconds.
While the class of 2020 is left wondering what it could have accomplished this spring, what it has already achieved is etched in the record books. And although those memories will remain with them, the team bonding is treasured most among this group of seniors.
“When we went up to state we took some girls with us and spent a weekend at one of the hotels in the city,” Hanson said. “Stuff like that I think is really special.”
“Definitely the bus rides are probably my favorite part that come with track,” Byers added. “No matter if you had a bad race personally, someone else had a better race most likely throughout the day. That just goes throughout the whole bus and the ride is just a blast the whole way back.”
Words that are relatable to the current environment. Although the season didn’t go the way anyone hoped, there’s plenty for the group of outgoing seniors to be proud of.