Solid group back for Gaels

Duplicating its recent fortunes will be no easy task this season for the St. Edmond boys track program.

On the heels of a Class 2A state runner-up finish, the Gaels will lean on a group of 11 returning letterwinners to help carry on their rich tradition.

“We’ve been blessed with so many elite athletes over the past few years, and I’m hoping that our guys will want to follow what some of those other people did,” SEHS head coach Bill Kibby said. “I feel like we have a solid nucleus to build around. Our seniors are all outstanding leaders.”

Kibby’s top order of business will be finding capable replacements for departed standouts Neil Flattery and Nate Kolacia. Flattery, a current University of Iowa athlete, anchored the Gael distance medley to a second consecutive state title last spring en route to clocking a new school record time of 3:31.19. He also ran the final leg on the runner-up 4×800 and captured silver in the 800 and bronze in the 400 inside Drake Stadium. Flattery is the defending Drake Relays 800 champion, as well, where he clocked a new meet mark (1:55.18).

Kolacia, who now competes for Grinnell College, took part on St. Edmond’s state distance medley and 4×800, along with placing fourth in the 3200 and eighth in the 1600.

“One thing that really hurts us this year is we just don’t have that excellent anchor man like we’ve always had before,” said Kibby. “We’re hoping some of our young guys will step up for us as the season goes on.”

Seth Reel, Hank Lentsch, David Flattery, Aaron McElroy and Cory Angstrom, all seniors, each advanced to Des Moines in 2012. Reel, who finished seventh at the 2A state cross country meet this past fall, was 14th in the 1600 and 21st in the 800 as a junior at state. Lentsch tied for 13th in the state high jump a year ago after settling for seventh as a sophomore. He also qualified for state in the 110-hurdles – an event in which he holds a school record.

Flattery represented SEHS on the 4×400 and 4×800 at state last May, while McElroy and Angstrom both ran the 200 and competed on the distance medley and 4×400.

“If our guys weren’t so competitive, I probably wouldn’t keep coming back,” Kibby said. “I just have to much fun working with this group. They all have have great attitudes.”

Senior Thomas Woodruff (field events), juniors Vinnie Harvey (field events), Casey McEvoy (1600 and 3200) and Tristan Sitzmann (hurdles) and sophomores Landon Peed (800) and Matthew Bocken (hurdles) provide St. Edmond with quality depth.

“Hopefully, the weather will break one of these days,” said Kibby. “We’ve been having to practice in the gym and hallways, so we haven’t been able to get a good feel for what some of our guys can do.”

In addition to his Gaels, Kibby views five-time defending North Central Conference champion Algona and Webster City as the league frontrunners.

Prior to last season, SEHS previously captured 2A state crowns in 2009 and 2011.

Assisting Kibby again this year is Mitch Murphy.

St. Edmond’s first outdoor meet is set for Tuesday at Eagle Grove.