The young and the limitless.
It’s an appropriate description of the Muskie track-and-field team after it tasted action for the first time last Thursday at the Bronco Booster Track & Field Invite varsity meet at Falls High School.
More than three-quarters of the squad this season are Grade 7-9 athletes–most of whom dug in their heels rather than fade away against their mostly older and more experienced competition.
The result was six medals and 19 top-five finishes for Fort High overall, with the girls’ team ending up fifth place out of six teams with 64 points.
The five-member boys’ team, meanwhile, compiled 25 points to land in sixth spot in their six-team division.
The host Broncos handily topped the girls’ division with 231 points, with the Ely Timberwolves earning top spot in the boys’ division (185).
“The Grade 7s, 8s, and 9s really held their own and were not fazed by the situation,” said Muskie head coach John Dutton.
“I told them beforehand I’m not concerned with how they placed, and just to do their best and get some experience, and lay down some base times and distances that we can work from,” he noted.
“But they really enjoyed themselves and they were far faster than they were in practice,” Dutton added.
“I think they got caught up in the moment in a good way.
“Not only did they not get blown away but they can feel good about what they accomplished,” he reasoned.
“They’re off to a real good start.”
The prime example was Grade 8 student Ashlyn Beck of Donald Young School in Emo–part of the legion of those not yet high school-aged who still were welcome to take part in Muskie practices as Dutton looks to build the grassroots of the program.
Beck squared off with a field of 14 other runners and breezed her way to second place in the girls’ 800m with a time of 2:50.34, trailing only Grade 10 champion Sarah Urquhart of the Dryden Eagles (2:48.59).
Muskie teammate Grace Kowal just missed a medal by .58 seconds to finish a strong fourth (2:53.71) while Emma Toriseva of Emo raced home in seventh (3:02.07).
“Ashlyn ran great and Emma . . . never showed me anything close to three minutes in practice,” lauded Dutton.
The Grade 8 trio of Greta Fedoruk on the lead leg, Kowal running second, and Beck handling the anchor position joined with Grade 9 entrant Tori Toriseva on the third leg to capture bronze in the girls’ 4x800m relay in 12:27.44.
Ely won the race (11:15.19).
Sisters Grace and Ellie Petsnick were part of a pitched battle in the girls’ high jump, along with Broncos’ superstar Lexi Erickson.
In the end, Erickson came out ahead with a leap of 4’8″ to nip Grace (Grade 9) and Ellie (Grade 10), who both came in at 4’6″.
The younger Petsnick secured silver via a tie-breaker by having less misses than her older sibling, who still managed to grab bronze.
Meanwhile, Grade 11 veteran Sekina Scheibler served notice he will be a force to be reckoned with this season as he reaches full strength following a right foot injury during the Muskie football season last fall that cost him both the basketball and badminton seasons.
The 2015 OFSAA champion in Midget boys’ discus was fourth in his specialty with a top toss of 111’3″, with Dryden’s Michael Ryan leaving the field in his dust with a winning throw of 136’8″.
But Scheibler raised his game in two other field tests.
He took silver in boys’ shot put (38’4.5″) behind
gold-medallist Willy George of the Warroad Warriors (38’8″) and then bronze in the boys’ high jump after ranking second out of three competitors in a tie-breaker for second at 5’2″ behind champion Jacob Bilous of Dryden (5’4″).
Armand Barrios of the Falls wound up with silver while Muskie Ben Olsen settled for fourth.
Everyone who finished ahead of Scheibler on Thursday should not even dream of getting comfortable–he’s just getting warmed up, according to his coach.
“Sekina has been helping me a lot with the junior throwers in practice, as have other seniors like Jyl Westover and Tory Beaudry with our young runners,” noted Dutton.
“This is their third year with me and they really see the importance of the team and being team players,” he added.
“We don’t have captains but if we did, it’s not hard to guess who they would be.
“We’d only be practising for three weeks and I went away to Mexico for a week,” recalled Dutton. “[But] the whole time I was down there, I was getting texts from them knowing how practice was going and what was happening.
“They’ve really moulded a place for themselves on this team and they are a crucial part of it.”
Westover (lead leg) and Beaudry (third) joined Nadia Webb (second) and Ellie Petsnick (anchor) on the girls’ 4x100m quartet, which provided one of three fourth-place finishes for the Muskie relay squads on the day with a time of 59.23.
Also getting fourth was the girls’ 4x200m crew of Jill Calder, Samantha Hammond, Alacea Yerxa, and Kamryn Sandelovich (2:11.62) and the quartet of Grace Petsnick, Angie Redford, Tori Toriseva, and Katrina Slomke (5:08.39).
Earning fourth-place results in individual events besides Kowal, Olsen, and Scheibler were Sandelovich in girls’ high jump (4’4″) and Grace Petsnick for girls’ long jump (13’9.5″).
Nabbing fifth-place finishes were Fedoruk in the girls’ 400m (1:10.42), Westover and Beaudry in girls’ high jump (4’2″), Jessica Empey in girls’ long jump (13’6.75″), and Carson Noga in the boys’ 400m (1:01.08).
Sean Huziak reached a best placing of sixth in the boys’ discus (97’10”).
Taking eighth place were Redford in the girls’ 100m hurdles (25.65), Webb in the girls’ 200m (30.83), Slomke in girls’ high jump (4′), Empey in the girls’ triple jump (27’1.5″), and Aaron Scheibler for boys’ shot put (31’11”).
Top finishes for other Muskies individually included Sarah Rittau in 14th for the girls’ 400m (1:21.87), Yerxa in 16th in girls’ long jump (tied with Slomke at 11’5.5″), Jill Calder in girls’ shot put (21’5″), and Carmen Hebert in 21st for the girls’ 100m (15.93).
Morgan Vanderaa took 27th for the girls’ 100m (16.79), Ava Dolyny was 37th in the girls’ 100m (18.17), and Emily Harp ended up 39th in the girls’ 100m (18.62).
Kianna Antonick and Aurora Hutton, both not yet high-schoolers, took part in the girls’ high jump but did not place after being unable to cross the bar successfully in their three attempts each.
“There was some disappointment from our high jumpers and a couple of tears, but that’s to be expected,” Dutton said in defending Antonick and Hutton.
“There’s so much you have to consider when doing a jumping event, so you don’t need much to go wrong to go through your three shots at it,” he stressed.
“I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised with themselves when they do get across.”
The youngest of the Muskies will add to their competition résumé this Friday when the Falls hosts a junior varsity meet for Grades 7-9 beginning at 4 p.m.
“I’m looking forward to Friday’s meet and seeing what these athletes can do against others of their own age group exclusively,” said Dutton.
The Falls then will host another varsity meet next Tuesday starting at 4 p.m.