By PATRICK SLACK
The Royalton boys and girls track and field teams each head into the spring without standout state qualifiers from a year ago, yet both bring back several varsity contributors looking to fill their shoes.
For the Royals boys, state distance star Daniel Borash departs, with sophomores Zach Carlson and Tremayne Collins the top returning distance runners to take his place, along with senior Stephen Strusz, junior Nathan Scofield and freshman Ben Borash.
The boys team will aim to improve upon its fourth-place finish in the Prairie Conference last year.
“I really believe that we can break into the top three of this year’s conference meet if we can keep everyone healthy,” Royalton boys head coach Ryan Olson said. “We have really good numbers out for the team this year.”
In the field, four experienced throwers look to pace Royalton.
“Senior Andrew Kroll really had a nice finish to last year’s season and he has been working hard to get better and has really stepped up as a senior captain,” Olson said. “We are very excited to see what our throwers can do.”
Other top throwers include senior Michael Schwanke, juniors Tony Plemel and Tony Gadacz and eighth-graders Tanner Weaver and David Wimer.
“We have a solid group of athletes who have great talent that are new to the team this year which will likely excel in a number of events themselves,” Olson said. “They have great speed and athleticism. Some of these athletes include two seniors, Jack Fulfore and Luke Wentland, and many underclassmen.”
On the girls side, Royalton will have to look multiple places to try and replace the versatility of Record Athlete of the Year Megan Wiener, who dominated in sprints and jumps.
Returning section-qualifying sophomore Abby Duevel figures to lead the Royals in sprints, along with sophomores Courtney Goerger and Hayley Gottwalt.
Freshman Madi Rudolph narrowly missed the section meet in hurdles last season and will be one of the leaders in the field for Royalton.
“She is going to carry that experience into this season as a freshman and score some regular points,” Olson said. “The Royals should demonstrate competitive balance throughout the sprints and jumps.”
Sophomore Cheyenne Eynik is the sole returning varsity thrower from last year.
“She had a very strong finish to last season, making some huge improvements near the end of the year,” Olson said. “Things seemed to really click for her and I fully expect her to carry that over into this year.”
Vying to contribute in the distance events are senior Breanne Carlson, juniors Lulu Martinez and Ciara Kowalczyk, sophomore Jenna Trutwin and freshmen Breanna Sand and Lexi Witucki.
Royalton was scheduled to compete in an indoor meet at St. John’s University, Saturday, March 23.
The Royals open the outdoor season at Holdingford, April 9.