Experience boosts Tiger boys’ hopes

ETHAN BRINKMAN (right) and Derrick Grimm are two key sprinters returning this season for the Howards Grove boys track team. – Photo by Mike McGill ETHAN BRINKMAN (right) and Derrick Grimm are two key sprinters returning this season for the Howards Grove boys track team. – Photo by Mike McGill HOWARDS GROVE – An experienced Howards Grove boys squad should be a strong contender for the 2015 Central Lakeshore Conference track championship after finishing a close second last year.

The Tigers’ 29-man roster returns 16 athletes from last season. HGHS is led by senior sprinter Ethan Brinkman who had an outstanding 2014 CLC Meet when he scored 29½ team points to spark the Tigers. Brinkman won the 400-meter race and earned second in the 100 and 200 dashes.

HGHS returns its entire 400 relay team which was a Division 2 sectional qualifier. The relay members back are Brinkman, sophomore Noah Bramstedt, junior Derrick Grimm and senior Jonah Gerber.

The Tiger girls have only eight team members but two of them are key returnees in junior Noelle Eschen and sophomore Elly Goedeke. Eschen was a sectional qualifier in the 100 and 400 races, and Goedeke was a sectional qualifier in the 1,600 run.

Eschen was the Tigers’ standout in the 2014 CLC Meet with third-place finishes in the 100, 200 and 400 races.

“I am very optimistic for this track season because we have a lot of returning seniors who have really excelled this past year. All of the boys have the goal of winning conference this year which is really pushing them to give it their all in practice,” said Tiger co-head coach Vanessa Brotske.

The other co-coach is former Tiger track standout Calli Nonnemacher, a 2008 HGHS graduate, who was an assistant Tiger coach last year.

“The biggest strength is all of the returning boys. We have really great numbers on the boys’ side and some excellent talent as well,” said Brotske.

“The biggest weakness is numbers for girls. A lot of girls are out for softball and soccer which draws away from track. The girls we do have are just awesome though – hardworking, dedicated and great attitude.”

The Tigers’ other returning sectional qualifiers are senior Eric Dvorachek in the 1,600 and senior Alex Strege in the triple jump.

Another key returnee for the girls team is senior Ali Schueler who placed fourth in the discus at last year’s CLC Meet.

Nonnemacher pointed out the keys for the teams to be successful.

“I’ve always thought that the level of inter-team support needs to be strong in order to be successful as a team,” said Nonnemacher.

“You need to support and be supported by those around you to do well. Also, we have a lot of great kids who are truly gifted with their athletic abilities but they need to believe in themselves and each other before they can win any races or events.

“If they are willing to work hard to develop their talents, we will have an awesome season,” said Nonnemacher.

Nonnemacher said her top goals for the teams are to win CLC titles. Oostburg edged HGHS by only 4½ points to win its third straight crown. Random Lake is the eight-time defending girls champion. The Tigers placed sixth in the girls meet.

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