I-S track team includes two-time state champion
By Holly Neumann
After stepping down as Iola-Scandinavia’s track coach six years ago, Bruce Beyersdorf is back in the saddle and looking forward to a successful 2017 season.
“This is where I belong,” he said during a recent practice at Iola-Scandinavia High School. “Track has always been a part of my life and my love has always been coaching. I am now back doing what I love the most.”
What Beyersdorf is looking forward to the most is seeing kids successful and having a good time.
“We have some depth in the sprints, but we are a little thin in the distance area,” he said. “We really have not had a lot of time outside to see what everyone can do yet.”
Beyersdorf feels the Thunderbirds’ girls’ team has a shot at winning a Central Wisconsin Conference championship.
“I think if we can keep everyone healthy, it is within our reach,” he said. “Wittenberg-Birnamwood will be the top ones to knock off there. They are very good and very deep, but if everything falls in line for us, I think we could come up and surprise them.”
Junior Erika Kisting and senior Leighten Fischer are back for the girls. Kisting is the defending Division 3 1,600- and 3,200-meter state champion.
“I think that our team has many strengths,” Kisting said. “We have many athletes coming back from the year before while still receiving some new athletes. I feel that the mix of returning and new teammates will create for a fun season.”
Kisting plans on running the 1,600 and 3,200 this season.
“My goal this year is to break the 5-minute mark for my mile to create a new personal record,” she said. “I also want to have better split times and have negative splits instead of positive.”
Fischer qualified in four events at last year’s WIAA State Track & Field Championships.
“My hope for this season is to make it to state for my fourth year in a row in four different events,” she said. “My goal is to get up on the podium for the first time since all the other years, I was short by one or two places.”
Fischer is also hoping to set some new personal records as well as try different events.
“I have gone in something different each year and that’s what makes it exciting for me,” she said. “Making it my senior year will be super-important to me. I have made it three years in a row, so to make it my fourth would just top it off.”
Fischer wants to make track the best experience for everyone.
“I love to push my teammates to their max, to be positive and keep them focused to work hard,” she said. “It pretty much comes down commitment and dedication.”
Kisting and Fischer were also part of the T-Birds’ 3,200-meter relay team that made it to state last year. The team, which also included Natalie Rustad and Jada Beacom, finished eighth. Beacom and Rustad are also returning to the team this season.
Jalen Block and Joe Makovec will lead the boys’ team.
Makovec finished 17th at state in the 3,200.
“Joe hurt his ankle playing basketball, so he will not be ready to go until the first part of April,” Beyersdorf said. “I am going to really have to push him to reach his goals. He has a bright future. He is willing to go that extra mile to get it done.”
Makovec said it will be challenging.
“I have lost a lot of muscle in my leg since I have been off of it for a month,” he said. “I have been going to physical therapy twice a week and been doing various workouts at home to get my strength back. I hope to be back to where I was by outdoor season and then show improvements as the season goes on and I recover more.”
Makovec is looking forward to competing against runners that he knows are better since last season.
“I hope to prove to them that I have also gotten faster,” he said. “I feel like I have improved a lot since last season and my goals for this season are to make it to state in the 3,200 and 1,600.”
Block is expected to do well in the 800 and 1600 meter runs as well as the high jump.
“He is a really good distance runner,” Beyersdorf said. “He is a solid athlete and should stand out in the high jump.”
Other team members include seniors Brynn Rasmussen, McKenzie Widolff and Scott Van Gunten; junior Mackenzie Frye; sophomores Kyle Beske, Tyler Bricco, Garrett Brown, Makenna Brown, Austin Buss, Magan Ellioff, Lucas Hohn, Erick Kriewaldt, Noah Olson, Keygan Singh, Haley Ullom and Payton Wester; and freshmen Cameron Boris, William Cady, Zoe Tinter, Alexandra Glad, Erik Grenlie, Ana Holder, Jack Krause, Matthew Lehman, Jeremy Miller, Aleah Petrosa and Austin Piotter.
Beyersdorf admitted the team is young overall.
“I still expect good things,” he said. “I think it will be a great season.”