Morical, Sparr and Lanoux shine for Alexandria dual meet domination over St. Cloud Apollo

Alexandria cruised to beat St, Cloud Apollo in home track and field meet on Thursday afternoon.

AJ Sparr (right) and Gavin Ashmore take first and second in the 300-meter hurdles during Alexandria's dual meet against Apollo on May 6, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Things are starting to feel more routine for the Alexandria boys track and field team, which means they are gearing up for the conference and section championship meets.

The Cardinals dominated St. Cloud Apollo 120-25 on a windy Thursday afternoon. Alexandria athletes took first place in 16 out of 17 events.

“Over half of our team coming into this season hadn’t seen any varsity track and field competition,” Alexandria head coach Mike Empting said. “They were all ninth and 10th graders when we didn’t have a season. There were a lot of growing pains and a lot of learning about how we do things and about our culture. There’s a learning curve with the kids as it goes along. After last year, it’s just great to be back out here.”

Senior Nolan Morical put together an impressive day in his four events. He finished 0.08 behind junior Kristen Hoskins in the 100-meter dash for second place while winning the 400 (53.11) and 200 (23.32). Morical also took second in the high jump at 5-feet, 10-inches.


Jacob Kleven took first place in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:06.9 on May 6, 2021. Alexandria beat Apollo in a home dual meet 120-25. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

“It was a huge day for Nolan,” Empting said. “He had a (personal record) in the high jump and a great time in the 200 considering he was running into the wind for the first half of it. We know Kristen is going to get out fast in the 100. Both of them got a great start today in that race.”

Another senior stepping up this season is AJ Sparr in the hurdles and pole vault. Sparr won the 300-meter race with a time of 46.03 and finished 0.34 behind Gavin Ashmore in the 110. Ashmore was second in the 300-meter hurdles with a 46.40. Sparr also took third in the pole vault at 10-feet, 6-inches.

“AJ is such a good kid that works super hard,” Empting said. “He really wants to do well and wants to improve, and he does the things to help him get to that point. He’s a good kid to coach.”

Alexandria’s boys throwers are led by Joseph Lanoux, who routinely puts up the best scores day in and day out. On Thursday, he won both the discus (130-06) and the shot put (37-09.5).

“He’s a junior, and the last time he had any coaching in the throwing was his freshman year,” Empting said. “They have a ton of growth left. Coach Ty Granning is our throws coach, and he does an outstanding job working with our throwers. I’m really excited to see what they’ll do. Guys like Joey and Zander (Homelvig) have a long way to go in terms of technique. Listening to coach Granning and talking to them both and seeing how much they know they can improve through this season and into next season is very exciting for us.”

Nolan Morical leads the pack in the first heat of the 200-meter dash to a time of 23.32 on May 6, 2021. Morical has two first and second place finishes in Alexandria's 120-25 win over St. Cloud Apollo. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)


The Cardinals have seen a healthy dose of athletes who will look to compete for podium spots at the conference and section championships.

“We’re at this point in the season where intensity and volume start ramping up a little bit,” Empting said. “We’re going to turn a corner here in a bit and start taking the volume off. This is the point of the season where kids usually feel the most tired and beat up. We’re getting ready for them to get their legs back under them at the end of May, where we have our championship-type events. I think we’re on the right path to having our kids in their best spots when those meets come around.”

Ben Borden hands the baton to Lance Jacobson in Alexandria's third-pace 4x400-meter relay on May 6, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

When Empting stacks up his lineup with other championship hopefuls, he believes he has the pieces to put a state-ready group together.

“Just looking at the results so far, I think we have some kids that are ready to compete,” Empting said. “As a team, it’s always your hope that you’ll be there competing for that top spot. I think this group has enough pieces in place to do that. Track and field is all about putting the pieces together. I think we have enough really good athletes in enough events to challenge for conference and section championships as a team.”


4X800M RELAY- 1st- Hunter Mohr, Eric LeBrasseur, Jacob Kleven, Nathan Klimek 9:35.15; 2nd- Evan Moore, Izaya Bruso, Myles Sansted, Keenan Bruso 9:49.38; 110M HURDLES- 1st- Gavin Ashmore 18:43; 2nd- Samue Williams 18:74; 3rd- AJ Sparr 18:77; 100M DASH- 1st- Kristen Hoskins 11:05; 2nd- Nolan Morical 11:13; 3rd- Christian Doumbia 11:98; 4X200M RELAY- 2nd- Samuel Williams, AJ Sparr, Gavin Ashmore, Dylan Fruciante 1:44.56; 100M RUN- 1st- Bennett Wirth 4:53.08; 2nd- Riley Wagner 4:57.52; 4X100M RELAY- Will Heydt, Christian Doumbia, Kelly Johnson, Nicholas Huss 1st- 54.15; 400M DASH- 1st- Morical 53.11; 2nd- Mason Teaser 57.72; 3rd- Zachary Gundberg 57.80; 300M HURDLES- 1st- Sparr 46.03; 2nd- Ashmore 46.40; 3rd- Williams 47.97; 800M RUN- 1st- Jacob Kleven 2:06.90; 2nd- Myles Sansted 2;12.02; 200M DASH- 1st- Morical 23:32; 3200M RUN- 1st- Joel Brault 10:41.70; 2nd- Thomas Wilmesmeier 12:21.92; 4X400M RELAY- 1st- 4:01 Zachary Gundberg, Evan Schroeder, Mason Teaser, Riley Wagner; 2nd- Bennet Wirth, Hayden Peterson, Nolan Peterson, Wyatt Tischer 4:03.38; 3rd- Cameron Hochsprung, Torrey Olson-Rodel, Ben Borden, Lance Jacobson 4:05.72; HIGH JUMP- 2nd- Morical 5-10; 3rd- Dylan Fruciante 5-00; POLE VAULT- 1st- Jaeger Steele 11-06; 2nd- Nicholas Huss 11-00; 3rd- Sparr 10-06; LONG JUMP- 1st- Will Heydt 19-03; 2nd- Kelly Johnson 18-09; TRIPLE JUMP- 1st- Heydt 42-00; 3rd- Nicholas Borden 34-05; DISCUS- 1st- Joseph Lonoux 130-06; 2nd- Ethan Hoppe 116-09; 3rd- Isaac Krenshaw 112-01; SHOT PUT- 1st- Lanoux 37-09.5; 2nd- Neko Glaser 36-07; 3rd- Calen Piepho

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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