All systems go for Dodger boys

All early signs point to more positive results this season for the Fort Dodge boys track program.

Head coach John McBride is looking forward to seeing what his Dodger squad can accomplish.

“One thing we’ve emphasized for this year is having the kids come up with their own personal goals and team goals,” McBride said. “We have some pretty good ones like qualifying for Drake, placing at state and winning a meet, which we haven’t done in a long time.

“I’m excited that we can go into meets this year with a full lineup.”

Fort Dodge brings back a group of 25 letterwinners, including three 2012 Class 4A individual state qualifiers.

Keegan Jones, a senior, placed eighth in the 400 hurdles inside Drake Stadium last spring after winning a district title. Classmate Connor Hubbard also finished 13th in the discus at Des Moines, while sophomore Cray Washington participated in the 200.

Hubbard earned runner-up efforts at both the CIML Iowa Conference and district meets.

“We have a really good senior class, especially with Keegan coming back as a state placewinner and Connor contending every meet we go to,” said McBride, who is beginning his sixth year at the helm. “Cray is just a sophomore, but he’s been looking very good. Winning the 60 over at the (University of Northern Iowa) Dickinson Relays (on March 19 in Cedar Falls) was a big deal.”

Among other familiar names returning to the roster are seniors Austin Anderson, Michael Carlson, Wesley Castro, Joe Gerdes, Tommy Halligan, Adrean Johnson and Tyler Vaughn. Juniors Zach Anderson, Nick Ganzeveld, Desmond Greene, JC Hatcher, Damien Miller, Jake Porter, Riley Prescott and Tanner Smith will also be leaned on heavily.

Jones, Washington and Austin Anderson each ran on Fort Dodge’s 4×100 at the Drake Relays last spring.

“One area we need to get better at is with our middle distance guys,” McBride said. “This spring has been rough on them more than anything. Our sprinters are in pretty decent shape, and our distance kids can get out and go no matter what.

“Thursday and Friday was our first time practicing on the track, which was nice to do. Running in the hallways and swimming in the pool doesn’t help us, but a lot of teams are in the same boat. Since we’ve hardly been able to get outside, we need to go as hard as possible the first few meets to get a better idea of what we can really do.”

Assisting McBride are Rod Riessen, Andy Kavanaugh and Mike Zinnel.

The Dodgers debut tonight at Des Moines Hoover. FDSH will compete in its own 55th annual Dodger Relays April 9, while hosting a 4A district meet on May 9.