Cougar track on the rise
Returning state pole vault champ Bares looks sharp
The Lakeville South boys track and field team’s first-ever state champion is back.
Lee Bares returns in the pole vault after clearing 15 feet last June. Coming into the state meet seeded fifth, he vaulted more than a foot above his winning effort in the Section 1AA meet one week earlier. He won the state competition by 6 inches.
Bares has cleared 14 feet already in indoor competition this season.
“He is a gifted athlete, has a great work ethic and is a good leader for our team,” Lakeville South boys head coach Jon Gilmer said.
His talent will also be used in the 4×100-meter relay, 100 dash, high jump and long jump.
Nick Bachinski, who finished 22nd in the state 110 hurdles, has laced up his track shoes as well. He also will compete in the high jump, long jump and triple jump.
“His body has matured and it looks like he will have a fun and exciting senior season in track,” Gilmer said. “If you were ask him his favorite (event) it would be the high jump. He would like to get to the magical 7-foot height by the end of the season.”
Bachinski, Raoaf Barboza and Mike Shawl make hurdles a strength for the Cougars.
From there, the Cougars will rely on several younger athletes after a number of their top place-winners from last year graduated. Sprinters Tanner Griffen and Will Abbott, pole vaulters Nick Heller, Zach Gelineau and Josh Tipka, middle-distance runners Jake Siebert, Alex Rittenhouse, Michael Picken and Joe Vokac, distance runner Jake Scheneeman and throwers Tom Ryan, Ryan Nelson, Ryan Barbaro and Scott Newby provide the base from which the Cougars will draw points.
“I am not sure how many top place finishers in all events we will have,” Gilmer said. “We may not win many events but we hope to develop as a squad to have our top three finish close to each other.
“We need to improve our speed overall in all of our running events. The guys are working really hard and they are a great group of athletes to work with.”
On the girls side, the Cougars are loaded in a number of events after having the strongest season in school history in 2011.
“With the fifth-best team in the state last year, we are certainly looking for bigger and better things this season,” head coach Andrew Hilliard said. “If we can stay healthy, this team has the potential of being even stronger than last year.”
Morgan Pieri is back at high jump as one of the favorites in Minnesota after finishing second at state last June. She’ll join Shaina Burns and Caraline Slattery to form perhaps the strongest group of high jumpers in the state. Burns also already has some of the fastest hurdling times in early indoor competitions.
Jordyn Thornton, who holds school records in the shot put (43 feet, 7 inches) and discus (119-9), ranks near the top in the state. McKell Anderson would like to break her own school record of 11-0 in the pole vault.
South traditionally has someone in the lead pack during the distance events and 2012 is no different with Andrea Brekken, Emma Mickelson, Megan Kilbride and Kaytlyn Larson.
“Kayt is running at a different level than she ever has before and her time of 5:21.76 (in the 1,600) is pretty amazing at this point in the season,” Hilliard said. “Annie is versatile from 800 to 3,200 and her 3,200 time of 11:48.35 ranks near the top in the state.”
Returning sprinters Emily Wick, Rose Cozad, Kaitlin VanWinkle, Rachel Mickelson and Ali Skluzacek also help make the Cougars one of the favorites in the South Suburban Conference and Section 1AA.