Multi-sport athletes guide Stars

Sports Editor

The Holy Angels track and field team, coming off a year in which it had low numbers in 2016, has gone through a youth movement this season.

Holy Angels track and field captains, from left, Brendan Ballard, Demo Murdakes, Emma Davies, Meghan Uldrich and Tommy McCoy will look to lead the team to a successful 2017 campaign. (Sun Current staff photo by Chris Chesky)
Holy Angels track and field captains, from left, Brendan Ballard, Demo Murdakes, Emma Davies, Meghan Uldrich and Tommy McCoy will look to lead the team to a successful 2017 campaign. (Sun Current staff photo by Chris Chesky)

Holy Angels head track and field coach Jim Gunderson has been pleased so far with the amount of athletes that have come out for track and field so far this season.

“Things are going good, numbers are way up,” Gunderson said. “I think we had 50 kids in the program both boys and girls and I think we have 94 kids registered this year, so it is a pretty big jump.

“We’re really young, but we have some returners, with a couple seniors. There has been a big surge in the freshman and sophomore classes this year.”

Perhaps, even more importantly, the Stars have only nine seniors on the team. Gunderson, who is also the Stars’ head football coach, believes the key to the Stars’ increase in numbers has been the school’s insistence on having its student-athletes play multiple sports.

“A lot of the football guys are out,” Gunderson said. “Our big thing is that we preach being multi-sport athletes and a lot of our guys are buying into that.

“I’m a big advocate of multi-sport athletes and how it impacts every sport.  Track and field has a skill set for every sport, every skill that is seen in another sport, it is seen in track and field. Some kids are here to get faster, some kids are here to jump higher and some kids are here just to compete because they love track and field.”

Along with the increase in numbers, the Stars have also had a successful start to the season. Junior Alex Gillard posted a 13-foot-6-inch pole vault to kick off the season after missing 13 feet at last season’s section meet to advance to state. Gunderson believes Gillard’s vault was the second-highest in the state.

Freshman Isabelle Henry also got off to a good start to the season at the University of Minnesota indoor meet, where she won the 400-yard dash event with a time of one minute and five seconds, before running a 1:03 split in the 4×400-meter relay just 30 minutes later.

Holy Angels will look to build off its strong start to the season at its next meet against Tri-Metro Conference opponents at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at St. Croix Lutheran High School.

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.