South Tama County's boys track and field team switched up its lineup at a meet and nearly came away with victory at the 13-team competition.
The Trojans scored 104 points to finish third at the Wolverine Invitational. Host team Dike-New Hartford won the meet with 111 points, while West Marshall placed second, scoring 105.
"We ran this meet to go after West Marshall and see what we need to do in the next two weeks for conference," head coach George Kuhter said. "It was kind of like a classic poker game, because we had some kids that did not score and switched the lineup a bit."
South Tama won three individual events and one relay at the meet. Brady Ellenbecker led the Trojans with two gold medals. He edged out two competitors to win the 800- and 1,600-meter runs. Ellenbecker won the 800 in a time of 2:04.5 and then came back to run 4:38.1 in the 1,600. Brandon Nelson finished third in the 1,600 and eighth in the 800 for South Tama.
STC's other individual victory came in the 100-meter dash. Kyle Stephenson sprinted to victory, winning the race in 11.46 seconds. Teammate Brody Boldt placed fifth in the event. Boldt also finished fourth in the 200-meter dash.
"Brandon Nelson was really the key to our victory here," Kuhter said. "He came up with some huge points, especially in the second and third races that he had to run that night. His leadership ability and the willingness has a ton to say for that young man. He has been out for four years and has always been there scoring points, but this year he is scoring big points in every event he runs. That's why he is the captain."
STC's Brad Cecak helped the Trojans by placing second in the 400-meter dash. He ran the race in a time of 51.54 seconds. Robert Tyynismaa finished eighth in the race, running 54.93.
Other top performances included Dylan Kalinay placing fourth in the 110-meter hurdles (16.1 seconds), Surrell Youngbear in the 3,200 run (eighth place, 11:26.94), Stephenson in the long jump (third place, 19 feet, 5.5 inches) and Ian Slagle in the shot put (eighth place, 36-7).
The Trojans were also successful with their relays. They won the 400-meter relay and placed high in the 800-meter relay, 3,200-meter relay and the 1,600-meter distance medley relay. The 400 relay team won the race in a time 44.0 seconds.
STC's 800 relay ran a 1:33.66, finishing second behind West Marshall's 1:31.16. STC also finished runner-up in the 3,200 relay. STC's time was 8:39.44 and Dike-New Hartford won the race. The STC distance medley team placed fourth.
"Some of our younger guys got the chance to run tonight, although it does not show in the results," Kuhter said. "They gained some valuable experience against high-level competition. I hope that they appreciate the chances they are getting. To have freshman and sophomores run against kids their own age is a huge advantage for them. In the past few years we have not had that luxury. We always had to have some of our younger kids run against seniors and that is very frustrating for them to do because they can get down on themselves, but to have them develop and gain the experience with success is a huge deal for us."
Despite not winning a single event, the South Tama County boys track team finished third out of six schools at the Oskaloosa Relays on April 14.
The Trojans didn't earn any gold medals at the meet. However, they placed in the top three of 11 events. Those top finishes helped the Trojans score 92 points. Pella won the meet with 159, while Oskaloosa scored 110 to finish runner-up.
"We came close to some really good teams at Osky this weekend," head coach George Kuhter said. "I think that we ran as well as expected, since we only had about 15 kids. Brady Ellenbecker continues to improve and so does Brandon Nelson. Our kids always have a hard time getting excited about running on this Saturday of the year and then we always have a good meet."
Ellenbecker, Nelson and Kyle Stephenson led the Trojans in the individual events. Ellenbecker finished runner-up in the 800-meter run (2:11.59) and the 1,600-meter run (4:33.51). Nelson placed third in the 3,200-meter run in a time of 10:28.35. He also ran the 800 (2:21.76) and placed fourth in the 1,600 (4:53.63).
Stephenson continued his success in the long jump and 100-meter dash. He placed second in the long jump with a mark of 18 feet, 8.75 inches and third in the 100, running the race in 11.53 seconds. Sam Kuhter finished fourth in the long jump (18-3.75), while Brody Boldt placed fourth in the 100 (11.62).
Other top STC performances included Dylan Kalinay in the 110-meter hurdles (third, 16.28), James Norton in the 3,200 (fifth, 11:51.1), Grant Koch in the high jump (fifth, 5-4) and Nate Hala in the discus (sixth, 110-9).
All five STC relays placed fourth or better. The 3,200-meter relay finished runner-up in a time of 8:44.92. Relay members included Ellenbecker, Brad Cecak, Robert Tyynismaa and Clay Waterbury.
South Tama's 400-meter, 800-meter and 1,600-meter medley relays all finished third. The 400 relay team of Boldt, Kalinay, Tyler Blocker and Stephenson ran 45.36. The same four boys ran the 800 relay in a time of 134.46. Kalinay, Kuhter, Cecak and Waterbury teamed up to run the 1,600 medley in a time of 3:55.57
The Trojans' 1,600-meter relay team finished fourth. The relay members were Tyynismaa, Waterbury, Ellenbecker and Cecak.
"Our 4x100 and 4x200 guys were a little down, having a freshman in the line-up but Tyler Blocker stepped into some pretty deep shoes," coach Kuhter said. "It's time for the other freshmen to look at Tyler and see what he did at Osky. They, too, can step up and perform well if they give themselves a chance.
"We will continue to get better but the time is now," he said. "If we are going to scare our new conference mates and have a shot at a conference title in a few weeks, we will have to have some kids step up and take a shot at making our mark in the new conference."
The Trojans hosted a home meet Tuesday, but the results weren't available at press time. A meet recap will be in the Tama News-Herald on Friday.