By Perry Bell Sports Editor
The Pella Chronicle
The depth, the numbers and talent all lead to a strong and prosperous start to what coach Brent Van Hauen hopes to be yet another stellar season for the Pella High Dutch varsity track team.
A total of 65 young men have reported to practice. The break down by class includes 18 seniors, 15 juniors, 12 sophomores and 20 freshmen.
Nearly half (27) of the athletes return as varsity letter winners from a year ago.
Among the group that were conference and/or district champions, who qualified for state a year ago are seniors, Chris Brogden, Keegan Fitzsimmons, Wade Pingel, Josh DeWaard, Evan Jones, Kenny DuPre and Ryan Shull.
The junior group is led by Jordan Pingel, Aaron Houtz and Lukas Steenhoek.
When it came time to list the strength of the 2013 Dutch squad, Van Hauen had trouble knowing where to start.
The strengths include sprinters, middle distance and distance runners. “All have a lot of varsity experience from a year ago and we have a great amount of depth and flexibility in all three groups.”
The coach added, “Overall our team depth will continue to be a big strength of our team again this year, like last year’s team had.”
The weakness is in field events.
The athletes vying for spots in the jumps and throws were young and inexperienced a year ago.
“Our field event people are still developing,so we will see where they can get to this year. We are still young for the most part in the field events, but have a lot of promise,” Van Hauen said.
In sizing up the opposition in the Little Hawkeye Conference, Van Hauen said Knoxville will be a very good team again as well as Norwalk. Grinnell he said looks solid with their middle distance runners.
“If we stay healthy, I believe we will be one of the top few teams in the conference because of the depth we have in many events. This year, I think the LHC will be the best top to bottom that it has been in a few years,” replied the Pella coach.
Pella is coming off a 2012 season that produced a Little Hawkeye Conference title, district title and a sixth place finish at the 3A State Meet.
In summary, Van Hauen commented, “I expect our team to be very competitive. We have a group of seniors that are very serious about track and they are great leaders with very high expectations for themselves and the guys around them.”
Odds and Ends
The Little Hawkeye Conference Meet will be held April 29 in Oskaloosa.
The Pella Little Dutch Track Invitational is set for May 6.