With 16 letter winners back from last year’s team, Killdeer boys head track and field coach Andy Murphy is pretty excited about the season.
By Bryan Gallegos
But the Cowboys took a big hit before the season-opening meet last week when senior Dillan Jepson dislocated his shoulder while practicing the discus. The multi-sport standout and returning state qualifier in three events is likely out for the season.
“It will be difficult to replace Dillan’s versatility in the sprints and jumps, but it also opens up opportunities for other boys to step up,” Murphy said. “Losing a multiple state qualifier is tough, but we have a resilient group of boys that work hard and will do their best to overcome the loss.”
Filling Jepson’s Nikes won’t be easy. But the Cowboys still have the guns to make them a regional power with some threats to contend for state glory. The Cowboys are experienced with several individuals tasting success, including three who participated in the 2016 North Dakota State High School Track and Field Championships.
Perhaps Killdeer’s best bet is senior Hoyt Zander in the pole vault. The senior placed fourth in the event at the state meet and has already punched his ticket to the big dance. He soared to the state-qualifying standard of 12 feet, 6 inches in the Killdeer Cowboys “Quick Trigger” Invitation last week.
Meanwhile, juniors Alex Sadowsky and Cole Dukart also return. Sadowsky made it to state in the javelin while Dukart joined Zander and two others in the 400-meter relay.
“With only graduating seniors, we return a lot of experience,” Murphy said. “Our strength will be in the field events.”
That was the case in the “Quick Trigger,” particularly in the throwing events where the Cowboys dominated the shot put, discus and javelin. They had seven of the eight spots in the javelin, and six of the eight spots in the shot put and discus. Liam McFadden won the shot put, Zander the javelin and Rope Smith the discus.
When the day was done, the throwing events accounted for 104 of the team’s 170 points, which was key to the Cowboys’ winning the team title.
“We do not have many boy sprinters so we rely heavily on the field events, specifically the throws. Last year, most of the throwers were young and inexperienced. Excelling in the throws as an underclassman is difficult. Most of the throws are now juniors and seniors who have grown mentally and physically,” Murphy said. “Coach Klatt does a great job with all the throwers. He has high expectations and the throwers want to live up to those expectations.
Murphy said the Cowboys’ growth as a team last year will carry over this season. Last year, the Cowboys improved throughout the season and it resulted in personal records being set at every meet in many events that helped Killdeer place fourth at the Southwestern Region Track Meet.