After a lost season in 2020, the Bowman County Bulldogs are ready to hit the track again, starting with the Early Bird home meet March 30.
A year ago, plans for spring sports were put on hold when the pandemic hit North Dakota in March. Several weeks later, all spring sports were canceled, ending the hopes for seniors.
A year later, the prospects for the season are strong and will start officially with a home meet Tuesday (March 30) when the school hosts its Early Bird invitational meet.
According to one of the coaches, Jonathan Jahner, there are about 60 students who are getting ready for the season opener.
“We are down a couple (compared to previous years) but we have smaller junior high classes too,” he explained.
“We are really balanced. Obviously, our distance runners coming off the cross-country season they had (winning the boys state title) … they are a talented crew and they are going to score some points.
“On the boys side, we have some pretty good throwers coming back. Brendan Rasmussen was a state qualifier for us three years ago. We have some strength in the throws and we have got some young kids coming up that are going to help us there,” Jahner said.
“In the sprints and the jumps – we have some really good sprinters. Caleb Duffield and Clay Heimer have been state qualifiers for a couple of years now. In the hurdles, we have some strength there with Carson Massey.
“It is really a balanced team on the boys side. So that is good to see,” the coach said.
On the girls’ side, the team is a little younger. “We have a good mix of our older kids and our younger kids. You always have seventh and eighth graders who end up helping out on the varsity team. Usually, it is just a surprise... but this year our seventh and eighth graders have never competed. We have two classes of kids we are just trying to figure out where they belong and what they want to do,” he explained. “Those youngsters in the girls program are usually more competitive than the junior high kids in the boys program.
“With the upperclassmen on the girls side, we have some great leaders – Esmeralda Madrigal and Jenna Buchholz two really good girls,” he said. “Esmeralda does the hurdles, some sprints and mid-distance stuff. Jenna is a sprint and mid-distance kid. Those girls can do a lot of different things. It is kind of nice to have them around,” he said.
In the field events, the team is going to be light on vaulters in 2021, Jahner said. “Most of our vaulters graduated two years ago and one graduated last year that didn’t get to compete as a senior. So we are extremely young in the vault to the point where we probably won’t have many vaulters – period. We are just trying to get them started..”
The team is strong in the jumps, Jahner said. “Heimer and Duffield are probably two of our stronger jumpers on the boys side and then on the girls side, there is Ellie Powell and Madeline Stafford – and a slew of them who are going to be very, very competitive.”
Weather has had an impact on the team so far. “We got out earlier than we usually do, but we do a lot of circuit work inside when the weather is bad. It is hard to run in the halls every day,” Jahner added.
“There is a lot of technique work going on. Our hurdlers are doing hurdle work. Our jumpers are landing in the mats and the high jumpers are working on their steps.”
For Jahner’s distance runners, they are often getting mileage on the local roads. “It is pretty boring to run mileage around the oval,” he said.