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Alexandria boys' track and field: Depth of Cardinal throwers on display

Junior Mitch Peck cleared the second-to-last hurdle on his way to winning the 110-meter hurdles in a personal best time of 15.91. He also won the 300-meter hurdles in 42.92. (Eric Morken, Echo Press)

Alexandria track and field coach Mike Empting is in his first season with the Cardinal boys' team after guiding the girls for many years, and one of the biggest differences he has noticed is that age matters.

Empting watched in the past as girls like Jamie Piepenburg dominated for years in distance events and Wensia Johnson won a state title in the 200-meter dash as just an eighth grader a year ago.

"I had the girls for so long and one perspective I had to change was you can get 7th, 8th, 9th grade girls who can come up and compete at the varsity level and dominate for many years," Empting said. "On the boys' side, you really have to rely on your juniors and seniors to be your point scorers, simply because 17- and 18-year-old boys are just faster and stronger than 15- and 16-year-old boys."

That's why Empting felt good about the potential of his throwers coming into the season. It's a group that has the most upperclassmen and their experience was on full display in Alexandria's home triangular on Tuesday night. The Cardinals finished third behind Willmar and Sartell with 192.83 team points but got 47 season bests from their athletes.

Senior Chase Duwenhoegger had two of those in leading a deep and talented throwing group. He set a personal record in the shot put on his way to winning the event with a toss of 48-05.25. He also set a PR with his discus toss of 133-02, which was good for fourth, two spots behind teammate Colin Guetter (142-07).

The Cardinals owned the top three spots in the shot put and placed six in the top eight. Junior Aaron Steidl took second with a throw of 47-04, while senior Brian Krebs took third with a throw of 45-04. Both those were personal bests.

"When you look at our team, the majority of our juniors and seniors are in our throwing groups," Empting said. "That's our most competitive group across the board. We have others who are excellent individuals in other events."

Many of those were on display as well as Alexandria got five first-place finishes in all. Two of those came from Mitch Peck. The junior set a personal record in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.91 before taking the 300 hurdles in 42.92, despite falling down after hitting the final hurdle.

"Mitch is another example of a junior in our program that has spent a lot of time in the weight room and been involved in our program and done a lot to improve," Empting said. "It's starting to pay off as a junior. He had a nice PR in the 110. Then won the 300, had a very big lead and actually hit the last hurdle, fell down and got up and finished and still ran a good time. Mitch had a great day in the hurdles and the long jump too."

Senior Zac Bartolomeo did the same in the 400-meter dash with a winning time of 54.59. Sophomore Aaron Runge also took the 3,200-meter run in 11:03.19, while classmate Jimmy Pfeffer took second. Senior Nathan Huss also had two personal bests after finishing second in the 100 (11.35) and 200 (23.52).

Alexandria will now set its sights on the CLC meet at Sauk Rapids next Thursday. The Cardinals have high hopes for some individuals at that meet and feel they are on the right track heading into the most important stretch of the season.

"I think we have some boys that will contend to be conference champions," Empting said. "Those kids in a position to do that are moving in the right direction, and the young kids are progressing nicely. That's what we're going after right now. It's all about being at our best at the end of the season."



ALEXANDRIA TOP-EIGHT FINISHES - 4X800 RELAY - Pfeffer, Bartolomeo, Aaron Runge, Grant Rudolph - fourth place, 9:21.73

110-METER HURDLES - Peck - first place, 15.91; Alec Wosepka - seventh place, 18.22; Elijah Heckert - eighth place, 18.35

100-METER DASH - Nathan Huss - second place, 11.35; Donovan Chock - fifth place, 11.63

4X200 RELAY - Peck, Huss, Nick Dee, Chock - third place, 1:39.89; Heckert, Alec Roth, Mitch Roers, Luke Houska - sixth place, 1:50.77

1,600-METER RUN - Austin Thom - third place, 5:05.13; Brandon Jerde - fourth place, 5:06.08; Grant Rudolph - sixth place, 5:09.44; Trent Piepenburg - eighth place, 5:14.34

4X100 RELAY - Colby Carlson, Andrew Johnson, David Johnson, Wosepka - fourth place, 49.53; Johnathan Nguyen, Peter Rohr, LaZeric Johnson, Landon Anderson - sixth place, 56.06

400-METER DASH - Bartolomeo - first place, 54.59; Holmquist - sixth place, 56.41

300-METER HURDLES - Peck - first place, 42.92; Mitchell Meier - fifth place, 47.20

200-METER DASH - Huss - second place, 23.52; Chock - fifth place, 24.54; Holmquist - sixth place, 24.62

3,200-METER RUN - Runge - first place, 11:03.19; Pfeffer - second place, 12:02.12

4X400 RELAY - Dee, Houska, Roth, Nguyen - fifth place, 4:05.58; Thom, Jerde, Jesse Groettum, Rudolph - sixth place, 4:06.65

LONG JUMP - Chock - second place, 19-10.50; Huss - fifth place, 18-05.75; Peck - eighth place, 18-01.75

POLE VAULT - Alec Wosepka - third place, 10-06; David Anderson - seventh place, 9-00; Dylan Kriese - seventh place, 9-00

DISCUS - Colin Guetter - second place, 142-07; Duwenhoegger - fourth place, 133-02; Aaron Steidl - seventh place, 127-06; Logan Steidl - eighth place, 125-07

SHOT PUT - Duwenhoegger - first place, 48-05.25; A. Steidl - second place, 47-04; Krebs - third place, 45-04; L. Steidl - fifth place, 43-10; Guetter - sixth place, 43-09; Mitch Maday - eighth place, 40-08

HIGH JUMP - Chad Peterson - eighth place, 5-02

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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