The Lynnville-Sully boys track team will head to Belle Plaine on Thursday to kick off its outdoor season. And if you ask coach Mike Parkinson, it couldn’t come soon enough.
“Our practices are going well. The seniors are working hard. Mostly we’re just ready to get outdoors. We are going a little stir crazy being stuck inside all the time,” Parkinson said with a chuckle. “Our guys want to get outside and run, and I think when that happens, we’ll really begin to show our best.”
It’s clear that Parkinson and his team are looking forward to breathing some fresh air. Although, that is not to say the indoor season has been particularly unkind to the Hawks. Actually it’s quite the contrary. At the Central College invite in Pella on March 17, the Hawks tallied up plenty of top-15 finishes, including a fifth overall finish by junior Meliek Meyer in the 55-meter dash and an 11th-place finish by senior Brady Van Wyk in the high jump.
After bringing home a South Iowa Cedar League conference championship last year, the Hawks return state competitors aplenty. Lynnville-Sully was represented in eight separate events at last year’s state competition, headlined by their 4x110 shuttle hurdle team and Meyer’s second place finish in the 100. However, as Parkinson says, he is expecting even more out of his team this season.
“Last year we had a great season. We were conference champions. We won our district, which is something we’re extremely proud of, and we finished 13th as a team in state,” Parkinson said. “So, we really came into this season on a high note. A season like the one we had last year allows us to raise our expectations for the boys, especially the ones who brought home hardware at state.”
Despite the headline contributors usually taking center stage, Parkinson really emphasized the importance of the team in what most consider an individual sport. He relies on the athletes to push one another, helping each other to improve through competition with one another.
“It’s important for our, what I call ‘role players’ to step up and push the other guys. Those ‘role players’ do a good job of medaling at the local meets, and they’re able to score points for the team as well,” Parkinson said. “And at the end of the day, we really want to win team titles. That’s something that’s really important to us. Last year, the guys caught on quickly with what we were trying to do. We have a lot of athletic, fast guys that we’re bringing back, and we want to continue to get better as a team.”
The majority of the Hawks’ state competitors from last season are returning, with one big exception — Chase Jansen. Jansen ran the 400 and 800 for the Hawks last year, taking 15th and sixth at state, respectively.
“We lost a really great competitor in Chase Jansen. He was very driven and had a terrific work ethic. He is going to be really hard for us to replace. He was able to really push the other guys in practice to help get the best out of them. He is someone we are going to miss, and he leaves a big void for us in the 800.”
Still, the Hawks pose quite a threat on the track, and their state finalists from last year should only get faster.
“I think the biggest thing we have that we bring back from last season is our speed. Meyer and Bailee Samson are both just tremendous athletes, We have our shuttle hurdle relay team coming back, and we are going to get Caden Doll back very shortly as well. He suffered an elbow injury at the state wrestling tournament, but he’s about ready to get going for us,” Parkinson said. “We have really athletic kids that we’re bringing back from our relay teams. Our 4x100 is back, so is our 4x200 team. We have plenty of state experience to go along with a good group of guys. We have guys that see the bigger picture.”