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Gabriela Rodriguez (left) and the rest of the Waseca Bluejays will return to the track following a two-year break. (File/southernminn.com)

In a season that was already poised to be ripe with challenges, Waseca track and field coach David Abel has noticed yet another during his team's early practices.

"It's been kind of a challenge because you're just trying to get kids excited about the sport again," Abel said over the phone. While he acknowledges that many of his athletes are raring to compete and hit the track again — something they have not been able to do for nearly two years — his concerns are more in regard to the fewer numbers of kids out for the sport compared to previous years.

The overall reduced number of athletes participating in spring sports is trend that has been commented on by a number of coaches in the Waseca County News coverage area. This fact adds a rather thick layer of unknowns for the various coaching staffs to dig through, Abel and his team included.

"I think this is, more than anything, going to be a lot like a junior high season," Abel said of the upcoming Waseca track and field season. "You've got kids, but you don't know what they're going to do. You don't have any idea. A year makes a lot of difference for a lot of kids. They get bigger, they get faster...their body changes, especially the girls. You're just trying to figure out what they can do. As a junior high coach, every year is a new year. You've got kids coming that you didn't have before. The sense is, this year, there are definitely some kids who know what they're going to do, but [there are] lots of question marks."

Abel will use the first couple of meets to gauge where his athletes stand and to determine specific areas of improvement for each athlete. From there, he and his kids will start developing goals that they wish to achieve prior to the section meet. Even though he is still getting to know many of his athletes, particularly the underclassmen, Abel recognizes that his rosters do possess quite a bit of talent.

"We're fortunate, we've got a lot of good athletes out for track. So that makes all the difference in the world." 

The Waseca boys track and field team will be lead by a whopping 18 seniors, three times the amount Abel says is typically present in a given year. Marcus Hanson — a state medalist as a sophomore — will serve as one of the captains and will compete in the shot and discus events as well as being among the team's best sprinters.

"He's one of the last ones to leave and one of the first ones to get out there and get to work," Abel said of Hanson. "It's always a pleasure when you have a guy like that."

Other names to watch according to Abel include Matt Feldkamp, Conor Buechle, Sage Lang, Matt Seberson and Tave Ball.

On the girls side, Sydney Ludwig will serve as a captain and compete in the pole vault and various sprinting events. Abel is excited about the strength she has added since she last competed. Other names to watch include Gabby Rodriguez, Sophia Potter — a state participant in 2019 — and Ella Dufault. 

ROSTER

BOYS

Tave Ball, senior

Connor Buchele, senior

Dylan Delaske, senior

Cameron Deraad, senior

Collin Dufault, senior

Matthew Feldkamp, senior

Marcus Hansen, senior

Jack Hyland, senior

Sage Lang, senir

Brandon Lopez, senior

Aaron Root, senior

Joseph Schmidt, senior

Matt Seberson, senior

Dravyn Spies, senior

Brody Wirtz, senior

Jacob Woitas, senior

Max Gaytko, junior

Mateo Mathias, junior

John Long, junior

Ian Medin, junior

Davit Johansen, junior

Kyle Ahlschlager, sophomore

Cole Schultz, sophomore

Joe Feldcamp, sophomore

Eddie Herman, sophomore

Christian Rodriguez, sophomore

Addison Sampson, sophomore

Kaeden Johnson, freshman

Bobby Mortenson, freshman

Ethan Stenzel, freshman

River Schmidt, freshman

Issac Feldcamp, eight grade

GIRLS

Jaden Hiller, senior

Sydney Ludwig, senior

Melady Renteria, senior

Gabby Rodriguez, senior

Alayna Akers, junior

Maddy Bulfer, junior

Lillian Halla, junior

Samara Johnson, junior

Chloe Mansfield, junior

Cora McCabe, junior

Sophia Potter, junior

Maddie Thompson, junior

Ella Dufault, junior

Sam Azure, sophomore

Bella Hadley, sophomore

Kya Hoof, sophomore

Thyme Lang, sophomore

Josie Perrizo, sophomore

Camille Ring, sophomore

Kloe Wadd, sophomore

Lillian Dahle, sophomore

Evelyn O' Brien, freshman

Susie Kuhns, freshman

Haydn Lynch, freshman

Nora Schimming, frehsman

Sarah Haley, freshman

Callie Dufault, eighth grade

SCHEDULE

Friday, April 9 — at St. Peter meet, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 15 — at New Ulm meet, 3:30 p.m.

Friday, April 23 — at Redwood Valley meet, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 27 — Waseca meet, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 29-30 — at Mankato East meet, 6:15 p.m.

Tuesday, May 4 — at Marshall meet, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 13 — Waseca meet, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 18 — at Jordan meet, 4 p.m.

Friday, May 21 — at St. Peter meet, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 27 — at Worthington meet, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 3 — at New Prague meet, 4 p.m.

Reach Regional Sports Editor Lucas Seehafer at 507-444-2375. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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