Panther boys’ track team has gaps to fill
In the last few years, they’ve been good. They’ve got seven straight conference titles and six of the last seven district titles.
This year, the Mt. Pleasant boys’ track and field team is looking to continue their streak — but in order to do that, they’ve have to find some young athletes to step up and help them fill in the gaps left by last year’s talented senior class.
The Panthers graduated many of their top athletes from last season, including shuttle hurdle state champions Brandon Moorman and Kendall Porth. They also graduated state-qualifying distance runners Zach May and Nate Smith, as well as state-qualifying sprinters Donnie Johnson and Demetrius Goode.
“Trying to fill the holes left by graduation (will be key to the season),” Coach Scot Lamm said. “Right now, we have some very talented individuals, but need to find a way to put together competitive relay teams.”
For example, the shuttle hurdle team returns seniors Tommy Thorne and sophomore Cole Phillips, who will likely do well in their individual events. Putting together the other half of the shuttle hurle relay team, however, will be the challege for Lamm and the Panthers.
Right now, it looks like sophomore Spencer White will be taking the third spot on the team; the fourth is still up for grabs.
Their toughest competition in the conference, Lamm says, will come from Ft. Madison. However, it is Washington that is hosting the SEC meet, which also gives them a competitive advantage.
To top those two teams, the Panthers will have to find ways to fill the gaps.
Those gaps are pretty big.
The Panthers graduated three of their 4x800 runners and two of their 4x100 runners.
The other two 4x100 runners are senior Dalton Conrad and junior Josh Larson.
Conrad isn’t likely to compete this year, due to an injury he sustained during the basketball season.
Larson is serving as a page in Des Moines, and so he will be gone Monday through Thursday every week, and therefore has very limited availability for track.
Currently, Mt. Pleasant’s strength lies in the field events, where the Panthers have the most experience returning.
That includes senior Justin Dunn, a state placewinner in the discus, and senior Emmett Wester, a state qualifier in both shot put and discus.
If their indoor shot put marks are any indication, those two have picked up where they left off last season and are looking at another good year.
Lamm has also been impressed with what he’s seen of Logan Mulford in the high jump, and is expecting a lot from the senior. It’s a small sample, but Mulford jumped his personal best in his only indoor meet this season, despite practicing just twice.
Joining Mulford in the high jump is, well...another Mulford. Junior Zach Mulford, also a returning letterwinner, will compete in the high jump and is also fighting for a spot in the hurdles for the Panthers this year.
Returning sprinters for Mt. Pleasant are junior Trey Magnani, junior Blake Knudsen, sophomore Josh Beelman, Phillips and White.
In distance, the Panthers have senior Drew Perry, sophomore Kolby Raymond, sophomore Clayle Franklin and Thorne.
Thorne, who was a conference champ and state qualifier in the 800-meter run, a state qualifier in the 400 hurdles and part of the state-qualifying 4x800-meter relay team, will be a big contributor once again this season for Mt. Pleasant.
“He is where everything starts for us, and he’s a great place to start — he’s very versatile,” Lamm said. “He can run everything from a 100 to an 800, and he’s also a great hurdler.”
On top of all that, the senior has become the team leader on the track in his final season with the Panthers.
Like Thorne, Lamm is also in his last season with the Mt. Pleasant boys’ track and field team. The coach will be taking over duites as Activities Director at the school next year, and the new position means giving up coaching. Lamm has been the head coach of Mt. Pleasant boys’ track for 10 years.
He is joined by his assistant coaches Shawn Striegel (seven years with the team), Mitch Anderson (five years), Daryl Shy (four years) and Jeff Fedler (two years).