Wolter pleased with his team's start to season
East boys have 13 returning letter winners this spring
So far, so good for the Wauwatosa East boys track and field team.
With 16 points, coach Jake Wolter's team finished 15th out of 22 teams at the Nelson/Daniel Classic at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday, as Arrowhead ran away with the title (85.5 points).
But Wolter has been pleased from what he saw on Saturday as well as what he has seen in practice so far.
"Although our overall numbers are down from last year (70 to 60), I am very excited with the potential of the athletes we do have," he said. "Our distance squad is going to be very good. We have all of the runners that qualified as a team this fall in cross country.
"They are one of the hardest-working groups I have seen in all of my years at Tosa East. They are ready to break out and do some pretty special things."
Wolter sees his squad as a sleeper in the rugged Greater Metro Conference.
"When outdoor season hits, I expect us to be in the position to fight for a top three place in the GMC," he said. "We are going to need some time to see how our sprinters and jumpers come around, but once we get a few meets under our belt we will be just fine. I am excited about our hurdlers, vaulters and throwers. We have some good potential in those events."
Last year, the Red Raiders had a successful year, took a giant step in conference and finished in the middle of the pack. Two underclassmen also qualified for the state meet.
Returning letter winners include five seniors, six juniors and two sophomores.
Seniors are Max Kilpin (jumps, hurdles), Thomas Acompanado (distance), Rick Behlmer (sprints), John Hammel (sprints) and Michael Vogt (throws).
Dan Gagne (distance) leads the junior class, which includes Kevin Karraker (throws), James Kenagy (sprints), Jack Lockhart (distance), R.J. Salmon (distance) and Steffen Uhrich (distance). Jonah Meidl (distance) and Nick Pridgeon (hurdles) are the sophomore returnees.
Look for Kilpin, Gagne and Behlmer to lead this group.
Kilpin is a two-time state qualifier in the high jump and will also use his talents in some other events, according to Wolter.
"He is also going to be our best hurdler and (will) try the triple jump," he said. "Max is too good of an athlete to only do one event every meet. It is going to be our job not to overwhelm him with too many events since he has a chance to win a state championship in the high jump."
Gagne, a state qualifier in the 1,600 run last year, is another individual who is loaded with athletic ability.
"We are going to ask a lot out of Dan this year," Wolter said. "He may even run in some of our 4x400 relays. I am looking forward to watching Dan compete this year. He is such a bulldog out on the track."
Behlmer is a key component in the sprints, Wolter said.
"One of the hardest working kids that I have been lucky enough to coach," he said. "Great leadership skills."
Wolter also addressed the good start to the season in a triangular meet March 13 at West Allis Central.
"Kilpin triple-jumped himself into the top 10 of our all-time list with a 41-9," Wolter said. "He just keeps amazing us with what he can do. Nick Pridgeon was a nice surprise in the 55 high hurdles, winning with a time of 8.6."
Saturday, at UW-Whitewater
Max Kilpin, first in high jump (6-6), fifth triple jump (41-5)
R.J. Salmon, seventh, 1,600 (4:33.29)
Rick Behlmer, 10th, 400 (54.90)
Mike Meade, 12th, pole vault (11-0)
Jonah Meidl, 13th, 800 (2:07.93)
Tom Acompanado, 18th, 800 (2:12.82)
Steffen Uhrich, 18th, 3,200 (10:37. 84)
Michael Vogt, 20th, shot put (42-11).
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