Eagle throwers have early success

McKeag, Pipkins land on boys track and field honor roll

Although it’s still early in the high school outdoor boys track and field season, shot put and discus throwers from Apple Valley already have made some noise.

Eagles sophomore Kieran McKeag had a 53-foot, 9-inch throw in the shot put at an April 10 meet at Eagan High School, placing him on the state honor roll in the event. He threw the discus 147-5 in the same meet, also earning a spot on the honor roll. Trey Pipkins, a senior, had a 145-8 discus throw at Eagan.

Although there are other good throwers in the South Suburban Conference – Rosemount senior Payton Otterdahl, who had two top-three finishes at state last season, leaps to mind – shot put and discus should be good events for the Eagles, who were second to Eastview by one point in last year’s Section 3AA meet and went on to tie for 12th at state.

The Eagles, under first-year head coach Jeff Flugum, also return senior Da’Shawn Lewis, who ran the leadoff leg of Apple Valley’s third-place 4×100-meter relay at state in June 2013. Senior Conner Gross, who was seventh in the 110 hurdles, also is back.

Senior Luke Tansey was a finalist in the 800 in last year’s South Suburban Conference meet. Grant Udelhofen was top-10 in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the conference track meet and followed that by qualifying for the state cross country meet last fall. A.J. Hill, Matt Morse and Justice Walton add to the Eagles’ sprint depth. Walton also was second in the conference in the high jump last spring.

Seniors Tyler Roberts, Liam Gonzo and Liam Tyler are returning middle-distance runners.

The Eagles will be hosts of a co-ed True Team meet at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, then will go to Eagan for the Wildcat Invitational on Tuesday, April 22.

Apple Valley girls

One of the athletes leading the Eagle girls this spring is junior Brita Dawson, who ran on Apple Valley’s fourth-place 4×100 relay at the state meet. Dawson is one of the team’s captains along with junior Jennifer Suter and seniors Mikayla Twiss and Caroline Loe.

Olivia Anger, a state cross country meet qualifier last fall, figures to lead the distance group. Amanda Berg (pole vault and sprints), Bailey Roberts (distance), Steph Hechsel (sprints), Tia San Agustin (sprints) and Lexi Smerkar (throws) also are expected to supply points for the Eagles.

Kiara Myers reached the South Suburban Conference finals in the 400 last spring. Sophomore Amanda Sonnenburg was sixth in the conference in the pole vault in 2013.

Eagles coach Geri Dirth said the team hopes to remain competitive in the South Suburban. Usually that would not be a problem for a program with Apple Valley’s pedigree, but the South Suburban has become exceptionally strong. Six SSC teams placed in the top 11 at state last year.