Lennox High School’s track and field team has begun its 2023 season under the leadership of head coach Jared Vlastuin. With six years of experience as head coach at Lennox High School, Vlastuin has a proven track record of success, and he is ready to lead the Orioles to new heights this year.
Last season, the Lennox High School boys’ team finished fifth at the state championships, while the girls’ medley team of Dani Highum, Esther Christion, Alicia Ruud, and Emily Plucker, won a State title.
This year, the team is looking to build on that success and compete for top honors in both the boys’ and girls’ events.
Assisting Vlastuin will be Matt Luze, Baylee Sandbulte, Paul McVey, and Mike Oltmanns.
The team has a number of key returners, including Layne Kuper, Austin Strasser, Cody Peterson, Cohen Metcalf, Cloy McVey, and Layton Smith on the boys’ side, and Emily Plucker, Dani Highum, Kelsey Smidt, and Karli Bosma on the girls’ side. The team will be without Alicia Ruud, Steven Christion, Esther Christion, and Jacob Stubbe, all of whom graduated.
Vlastuin expects the boys’ team to be particularly strong in the hurdles and jumping events, with the team returning two top-eight placers in both events at State, as well as a second-place finisher in the high jump. Meanwhile, the girls’ team will be counting on Emily Plucker to be a big factor on the track at State.
With Vlastuin feeling confident in certain areas he does note youth and the “spring” weather as areas to be concerned with.
“Youth is a big question,” said Vlastuin. “We will need some younger athletes to step up on relays and in individual field events to get where we want to get to.”
When it comes to the teams to beat this season, Sioux Falls Christian looks to be a strong frontrunner although there are several other contenders in the mix as well. Fans won’t want to miss the Howard Wood, Conference, and Region Meets, which promise to be some of the most exciting events of the season.
Overall, Vlastuin is optimistic about the team’s prospects for the season.
“On the boys’ side, we are looking to compete for a top-three finish at state,” said Vlastuin. “If our areas of strength (hurdles, jumping events, and throws) can perform how we think they are capable of, this should be absolutely possible. While the girls lack a little bit of depth required to compete for team placement, we are still looking at having numerous relays compete for State titles and will have a couple of individuals capable of producing State Championships as well.”
The Orioles have already competed in some early indoor track meets and kicked off their outdoor meets earlier this week. Watch next week’s paper for complete results.
This year’s talented roster includes a diverse group of students from various grade levels. Emily Plucker, a senior, leads the girls’ team with her years of experience and exceptional skills. Hanna Baranya, Lily Meyer, Dani Highum, and Ashley Bondesen round out the juniors; sophomores Gavyn Herlyn, Jenna Duncan, Aubrey Bunkers, Kelsey Schmidt, Ryan Hanssen, and Natalie Andernacht along with freshman Josie Plucker, Allison Dummer, Holly Gillick, Andie Peters, Briana Slack, Mia Hanisch, Addison Martz, and Hannah Adney look to contribute to the team’s success.
On the boys’ side, Braeden Wulf, Landon Slack, Cody Peterson, Ethan Schroeder, Cohen Metcalf, Austin Richter, Tarles Antoine, Austin Strasser, Layne Kuper, are members of the senior class that look to lead the team with their years of experience and skill. The junior class, including Ethan Larson, Ashton Bach, Tommy Cvitan, and Trey Gerdes, adds their talent and leadership to the mix. Sophomores Ben DeJong, Emory Lefers, Clayton Barrett, Corban Hanneman, Chett Jibben, and Layton Smith, along with freshmen Karson Iken, Lucas Hartman, Wyatt Bult, Jacob Snyder, Noah Wood, and Cloy McVey will also provide nice depth for the team.