Boys track and field preview: Unknown commodities
The Rosemount track team has been able to hit the ground running the last few seasons, with plenty of talented athletes returning each spring after helping the team to South Suburban Conference and section championships the previous year.
This season will be different in that regard. The Irish return just two of the 12 runners, throwers and jumpers they sent to the Class 2A State Meet at Hamline University last June.
"We did lose a lot of high-end talent, but we also have great talent that is now a year older than they were last year," said Rosemount head coach Jay Hatleli, whose team won conference, section and True Team State titles last season. "What's different this year as opposed to the last few seasons we've had is that we don't exactly know how good we can be until we get a few meets under our belt. We are pretty young in a few areas, but there's good talent there."
One area the Irish have experience is in the distance events. Senior Chandler Dye is back after running a leg of Rosemount's third-place 4x800 and placing eighth in the open 800 at the state meet. He was also part of the Irish's state-qualifying cross country team last fall, along with returning 3,200 and 1,600 specialists Nathan Rock and Calvin Lehn.
Phong Dovu is also a returning state qualifier in the long jump after placing 17th last season.
"We expect (Dovu) to be a leader on our team. He put together a great section meet last year, which earned him a trip to the state meet. That kind of experience is valuable," Hatleli said. "Chandler Dye is also a returning all-state competitor. He's rare in that he's competed in the state meet every year since his freshman year. Similarly, we know he'll do a great job leading our team this season."
Hatleli also singled out jumper Marius Lewis and hurdler Conor Manning as key returning letterwinners. Newcomers Darrell Hunt, a jumper and sprinter, and Brad Jackson, a sprinter, could also make varsity contributions as the Irish try to fill out two state-qualifying sprint relays that lost all four of their runners to graduation.
The throwing events are just as wide open, as the Irish graduated two state placewinners in the shot put.
"Coach Conboy will have his guys ready when we need them," Hatleli said. "We don't know who those guys will be yet."
The Irish open the season this afternoon at the Eastview Invitational in Apple Valley. Events get under way at 4 o'clock.