FOREST CITY – The Waldorf indoor track team has broken 11 records. And there’s potential for a school record every time a Warrior track athlete runs, jumps or throws this indoor and outdoor season.
“The track season really starts in the fall with cross country,” said head track coach Kelsey Riggins. “We had a very good season, qualifying two runners for the nationals and breaking the school record in both the 5K (men’s) and 3K (women’s) events.”
In early December, at the Warriors first indoor event, 11 new school records were established or broken. In January, the Warriors set 12 more new records during the first two meets of the season.
Now in its second season, the Warrior men’s team fills the indoor events roster and the women compete in well over half the events.
“Last year we had nine people in competition,” said Riggins. “This year we have 13 women and with 28 men, we have a good sized team. When you establish a college program it’s a lot of work and I think we’re off to a good start.”
Since the start of its first season, the Waldorf program has had a change at the top. Veteran coach Kendrick Clay recruited athletes and started the program in competition. Last year Riggins moved from the associate assistant coach to the head coach when Clay resigned and returned to Nebraska.
“We have events with more than one competitor, our distances are strong, sprinters and hurdlers have been good and we have good throwers and weight people,” said Riggins. “The 11 new records at our first meet this year is a testament to how the kids have improved. They’re very determined, they work hard every day and they want to establish the best times and distances they can.”
Seniors Cody Clark and Adam Brinkman, juniors Korey Beaman and Austin Anderson, sophomore Caleb Gilbertson and freshman Demetrius Baker have played pivotal roles as team leaders.
Beaman won conference titles in the 110-meter hurdles and 400 hurdles during the 2015 outdoor season, which was Waldorf's final year in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC).
Gilbertson brings versatility in jumps and sprinting events. The first person to compete for Waldorf one year ago, the Hayfield, Minnesota, athlete says space is one of the only problems with the program.
"With so many more people on the team this year, we have trouble finding enough space to work out," he said. "But that's really the only problem."
Gilbertson, who holds the men's long jump record ran his first heptathlon this year. "I had never pole vaulted, run hurdles or run a 1,000 meter race.
"I did really good the first day," he said. "But not the second, I went from first place to finishing last. But it was a good experience."
Ramirez-Paez is a freshman from San Antonio. Meiners, an Omaha, Nebraska, native joins the team as a junior after spending the past two seasons at Iowa Central Community College.
Mark Ahlers is ready to give the Warriors an edge in mid-distance events, running events ranging from 800 to 1,500 meters.
Justin Jacobi, a true freshman from Belle Plaine, competes in the hurdle events and will also be competing in the pentathlon.
Baker throws and runs short sprints.
Freshmen Jonah Remker and Eithan Esenee join Beaman, Jacobi, Anderson and Ahlers in mid-distance and long sprint events, which range anywhere from 400 to 1,000 meters.
"This is the event group where we have the most quality depth right now," Riggins said.
Juniors Aaron Ward, Cassidy Warson and Ovan Garcia, freshmen Alden Zeller, Jesse Vega and Jimmy Blankenship will run distance.
Freshman Andre Davis runs the hurdles alongside Beaman and Jacobi.
Freshmen Isaiah Craig and Cameron Newsome are newcomers as jumpers, who will complement Gilbertson, Remker and Jacobi.
Freshmen Alex Pieree, Alvyns Alcenord, Tyrique Graham and Khalil Walker, sophomore Darius McMillan and junior Jovan Shabazz joined the team after playing football at Waldorf this fall.
Pierre, Alcenord, Graham, Walker and Shabazz will serve as sprinters. McMillan will compete in throws. Senior Isaiah Lufkin is also a newcomer who throws for the team.
On the women’s side, the Warriors return junior Abby Buehler, sophomores Danielle Holt and Karissa Vetsch.
Buehler is a jumper and a heptathlete. Last season, the Dodge Center, Minnesota, native earned second in the long jump (5.17 meters) and 100-meter dash (13.58 seconds), along with third place in the triple jump (10.05 meters) in the MCAC Championships.
A Warrior volleyball player, Buehletr said she hasn't found her stride yet this year. "I've been working on technique," she said.
Buehler, like Gilbertson, commented on workout space. "We've been running in halls and in the pool. The coaches have done a great job of finding space for our practices."
Holt is a hurdler, sprinter and jumper. The New London native is coming off last season as the MCAC outdoor champion in the 100 hurdles. Holt also represented Waldorf in three other events in the conference meet, second in the 400 hurdles, fourth in the long jump and fifth in the 100.
Vetsch is a jumper and thrower.
Sophomore Peyton Russell, freshmen Auburn Miller and Kelli Wallace will cover all five of the throwing events for Waldorf and have been working hard under the direction of assistant coach Asheley Conway.
Freshman Patricia German will compete in the heptathlon.
Other contributors for the Warriors include junior Megan Perkins in jumps, sophomore Erica Fee in middle distance, sophomore Shawneasha Watson in sprints and freshman Adriana Garber in sprints and jumps.
“We have the kids to be competitive,” said Riggins. “All have a good mind set and look to be very competative.”
Looking at the North Star conference, Riggins points to Dickinson State, Pesentation, Jamestown and Valley City as favorites in both men’s and women’s competition.
The NSAA Indoor Championships & Multi is set for Feb. 14-15 at Jamestown, North Dakota. and the NSAA Indoor Championships follow on Feb. 19-20 at Brookings, South Dakota. The indoor campaign concludes with the NAIA Indoor National Championships held March 3-5 at Johnson City, Tennessee.
Beginning the outdoor season in late March, the Warriors will compete in eight meets this spring. They host the Warrior Invitational on April 23 and also the NSAA Outdoor Championships on May 12-13.