DCHS track squad lacks experience, but has potential
By Eric Killelea
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
The Dawson County High School Track and Field team enters the season young and untested. They have as few as four senior boys and girls heading into their first meet Friday in Glendive.
Gone are last year’s senior track standouts Carson Oakland, Ashton Jones and Amanda Mittelstadt.
But the Red Devils do have several upperclassmen in leadership positions who are guiding a talented group of novices and rookies — nine of the 18 girls on the roster are freshmen. Of the 29 boys in track, 10 are juniors and seniors.
One goal heading into the season is to develop a sprinting crew — something the team has lacked — which could help rack up points in conference meets against the likes of this week’s opponents Sidney and Miles City.
For the boys, senior Tristan Hilgart, a regular at the Montana Class A Tournament over the past three years who most recently placed third in the 800-meter, is expected to improve as a middle-distance and relay runner. “Tristan is a disciplined runner and a smart kid,” Coach Mike Dryden said Thursday. “He knows that. He’ll step up. He’s the quiet guy that gets things done. We’re also going to take his speed and lengthen it out so he can run longer distances.”
Rounding out the senior numbers are pole-vaulter Brandt Ackerman and Jameson Crisafulli, a runningback and linebacker for the DCHS football team, who’s transitioning into a sprinter and relay runner.
The junior class is solid. Brandt Ackerman’s cousin Ase Ackerman will arrive on the track one year after qualifying for state in distance running. Jayden Holley plans to repeat an impressive year on the field qualifying in the shot put and javelin.
“Jayden’s a strong kid whose refining his technique,” Dryden said. And Sean-Daniel Taylor, with three years of throwing experience, looks to make an impact with shotput and discus.
For the girls, lone senior Kendra Zander, who placed in the 400-meter at state, will branch out and test her athleticism in jumping events.
“She’s qualified for state three years in a row,” Dryden said. “She’s the leader.”
Dryden has also figured out plans for juniors Emily Kuehn and Jaley Wyse. While Kuehn should be in a “good position to do some things” in the two-mile event, Wyse, a standout sprinter who placed fourth in the 300-meter hurdles at state last year, will try out additional events to score more points. “Jaley will be working on running more sprints to develop her speed,” Dryden said. “Her conditioning and technique are sound. As long as she stays healthy, she’ll be doing more early on than she’s done in the past.”
The question of whether the boys and girls are ready to compete will be answered soon, as the teams were set to compete Friday night, March 31, in Glendive.
“We’re rebuilding,” Dryden said when asked his prediction of how the team would hold up in their opening meet. “Are the pieces in place? Not so much. But we have talented athletes and now we have to get them to that next level of competition.”
Reach Eric Killelea at email@example.com.