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Titan boys’ ready to kick-off Track and Field season

Despite the snowy start to spring, another Tea Area High School track and field season is ready to get underway. With a wealth of experience and a roster brimming with talent, expectations are high for what lies ahead for the boys’ team. 

Ryan Decker, entering his 17th year at the helm of Tea Area’s track and field program, has fond memories of his own experience on the track. 

“I was very active in athletics in my high school career, where I specifically fell in love with track & field. I enjoy working with students in all aspects, and the opportunity to try to make a positive impact in a life is exciting. Coaching gives a way to connect with students that is different than in a classroom. To be able to help athletes set and reach goals, and celebrate successes and growth along the way is something I find to be very special,” said Decker. “I have been blessed to work with great colleague coaches (specifically Coach Miles, from whom I have learned a lot), administrators, students and parents in the time that I have been at Tea and have made coaching track & field super special to me.”

Mason Scheidegger, Peter Chapman, Andrew Griffin, and Zack Anderson, will be assisting Decker this season.

Decker looks back on the successes of the previous season with pride. Highlighting the achievements of his athletes, he recalls a strong showing at the state level, with notable performances from individuals and relay teams.

“We had a strong year last season,” said “Decker. “We had five individuals and four relay State Qualifiers, with three individual place winners and two relay place winners. We finished ninth in the State, fourth in a very competitive DAK12 Conference, and were Region Runner-ups last year.”

Decker noted two new school records were also set last year, Ethan McKnelly in the high jump and Peyton Thompson in the javelin. 

Both McKnellly and Thompson, along with Blake Thompson, Nathan Babb, Bryce Crawford, Connor McKinney, and Hunter Hegadorn, graduated last spring and will be missed on the roster but Decker looks for returning key athletes to step up and fill the void.

Key returners will be Ethan Vis, Tyler Rhead, Holden Jelen, Alex Kayser, Jack Campbell, Chase Deboer, Juv Banza, Peyton Sieber (all of whom ran on the State relays last year), Matthew Rogers (who placed fifth in 110 hurdles at State last year) Brenner Konrad, Kayden Williamson, Jack Campbell, and Reid Hammerquist. 

With a blend of seasoned veterans and promising newcomers, the team is primed for a competitive season ahead.

“Once again, we have a strong group of freshman coming into the program which is very exciting. Putting them with the group of sophomores and upperclassman is going to give us good depth at most events on the track,” said Decker. “Our sprint relays should be strong as we return most of the runners from last season. We also have strong competitors in the distance races, coming off our Boys team qualification in XC and all those athletes running for us in track.”

This year’s roster and their grades include the following athletes: James Biggins 9, Jacob Birger 9, Arian Boehms  9, Landen Bolte  9, Victor Bruggeman  9, Sam Bullis  9, Tyson DeYoung  9, Connor Fields  9, Brayden Gniffke  9, Reid Hammerquist  9, Bill Kerkula  9, Jonah Klemisch  9, Noah Korver  9, Trey Krell  9, Gage Little  9, Daylen McKnelly  9, Kage Olson  9, Zach Rieland  9, Lane Sieber  9, Dawood Toto  9, Tate VanLaecken  9, Aiden Woods  9, Juv Banza 10,  Carter Brown 10,  Rylen Burch 10,  Jack Campbell 10,  Carter Christensen 10,  Chase Deboer 10,  Jacob DeYoung 10,  Carson Hall 10,  Cason Kelling 10,  Brenner Konrad 10,  Daschle Lowery 10,  Noah Mahlum 10,  Arden McGraw 10,  Kingston Nyberg 10,  Cody Peterson 10,  Zac Webb 10,  Kayden Williamson 10,  Kayl Borderson 11, Ashton Hoover 11, Jacob Jongejeud 11, Lane Kelsey 11, Mats Leipert 11, Jacob Mueller 11, Tyler Rhead 11, Matthew Rogers 11, Riley Svanda 11, Cameron Wiens 11, Jeremy  Wiens 11, Brandon Wipf 11, Tim Halbur 12, Holden Jelen 12, Alex Kayser 12, Peyton Sieber 12, and Ethan Vis 12.

“Our youth will be an interesting question to see play out,” said Decker. “We lost Blake Thompson, who led our jumpers, but have a good group of guys that will have an opportunity to step and lead that group this season. Finding the right mix for all our new athletes will be a fun challenge.” 

With the DAK12 Conference looming as a formidable battleground, Decker identifies Sioux Falls Christian, Lennox, and West Central as teams to watch out for, along with Vermillion and Dakota Valley. However, he has confidence in his squad’s ability to rise to the occasion and make their mark on the track.

“Since moving to the top 24 format, our athletes have really competed well and we have been well represented at the State meet. We return some strong sprinters in Ethan Vis, Tyler Rhead, and Juv Banza and will look to see who can step up to fill the relay spots vacated by Ethan McKnelly and Blake Thompson,” said Decker. “Chase Deboer was a member of our State 4x4 and provides a strong presence in the longer sprints. Our distance seniors – Holden Jelen, Peyton Sieber, and Alex Kayser – should give a solid foundation in both individual and distance relay events. Reid Hammerquist and Jack Campbell had great XC seasons and will be looked upon to score consistent points. Brenner Konrad just missed the State Meet in the shot put last year and should compete well in all three throwing events. A number of other athletes have put in a lot of work over the off-season to get ready and help us compete at a high level this year. I feel like we are going to have a strong team showing in our final season of ‘A’ competition this year!”

The varsity squad will get their season underway on Apr. 4 when they travel to Vermillion. The team will be at home on Apr. 9 in a 3:30 p.m. meet. 

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