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North Tama track ready to push for State

April 1, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

The North Tama boys track team came up just short of sending a couple events to State last season due to a key injury. In 2019, a healthy Redhawk team looks to push their way to the Blue Oval and bring with them several runners capable of making a statement.

While the team returns four seniors in Cael Even, Hale Hulme Chase Morrison and Tyler Morrison as well some talented juniors and developing underclassmen talent, the newest face on the squad is coach Tyson Roberts, who coached girls junior high track last season and moved up to the high school level as Brent Billerbeck left the district after football.

"I like our 22 guys we had out and I feel that's a great number to get everyone involved," Roberts said. "Everyone is going to be running two to four things, so we have a chance to get in every event. This team has been together for awhile in all of these different sports. I don't have to worry about them not being cohesive."

Article Photos

Front row (left to right): Nathan Kucera, Devin McKinley, Adam Greiner, Logan Kennedy, Xander Bradley, Ashton Bradley, Noah Weber, Samuel Snyder, Gabe Kopriva. Back row: Tate Payne, Logan Brubaker, Cael Even, Tyler Morrison, Zach Greiner, Hale Hulme, Chase Morrison, Luke Pennell. Not pictured: KJ Erickson, Brady Reichmann and Ryan McLean.

Roberts teaches at the junior high and high school levels, so he's not new to the students nor unaware of the recent success these athletes have had in football and basketball this year. Like those coaches, Roberts expects the best out of his athletes as this senior class looks to continue their success.

"We have a good mix all over the board with throwers, distance, mid-distance, sprints, yet will we be strongest in our shuttle hurdle team who were really good last year," Roberts said. "We return three out of the four there, so finding someone to go with those three seniors will be big. Some good distance runners who were out for cross country last season will run for us. I'm really trying to push that 400 and 800 because we have strong hurdles and sprinters. I want some guys we can really count on for those events."

Hulme was a part of the shuttle hurdle who were seconds away from qualifying for State as well running several other fifth at the 400m hurdles at Districts. While North Tama finished last in the meet due to injuries, the senior feels this season can be different.

"Last season went well for us in terms of points, but no one went on to State," Hulme said. "It wasn't our best year, yet we worked hard and that's what matters. We just got a new coach and in my opinion we're being pushed harder than last year. We should be able to move farther and do better things this season."

In Roberts' eyes, Hulme and the senior class are what can push the Redhawks to the next level this year, but the team also has an underclassmen group who had success at the junior high level.

"These sophomores are an athletic group," Roberts said. "Along with this year's freshman, they won conference while in seventh and eighth grade. They have experience being successful. Sam Snyder was close to qualifying for State cross country, Logan Kennedy only a few spots behind him. I'll count on them for distance with their first year behind. Xander Bradley can be a good thrower."

In the sprint events, Morrison will be counted on for scoring points for North Tama and well as helping the shuttle hurdle team back into contention for a State run.

"Brent worked us hard last year, but Roberts is a good fit for us and pushes us," Morrison said. "Our shuttle team wants to make it to State, yet also get other events up there as well. We have a lot of good sprinters this year and Tate is good in the long jump."

Roberts also agrees North Tama's best chance at an event on the Blue Oval will be Morrison, Even, Hulme and a fourth runner.

"Off the top of my head, this shuttle team has the most potential of making State because they were so close last year," Roberts said. "We just have to find a fourth guy. Gabe Kopriva or Adam Greiner could step into that role. Tate Payne in the long jump is another competitor after being hurt last year. Snyder and Kennedy will push in that long distance. We could have a decent 4x800 is we find the right, committed guys."

While no one on the team really enjoys running indoors, teams across the state are in the same situation and Roberts feels the team is hungry going into the 2019 season.

"I don't know where these guys finished in conference last season, but I definitely think we can improve," Roberts said. "They maybe had a few more out last season, yet these 22 guys are committed and want to be out. I know they want to improve from last season. Experience means a lot in track because our freshman dominated in junior high and that won't be the case now. Senior leadership will keep them improving."

North Tama will look to not only improve their times over the regular season, but also flip the script on the State Qualifying Meet after placing last in 2018.

"A successful season is everyone improving on their times each meet and pushing us to State," Morrison said. "Making it there this season would be great for our program."

The Redhawks will kick off their season on Thursday, March 28 at BCLUW against GMG, Dike-New Hartford and Meskwaki. Their next meet will be on Tuesday, April 2 at Denver.



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