Photo courtesy of Mark Wilmes/Tyler Tribute Pictured above is the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton boys and girls track and field team. Front row (L to R): Lucas Kidman, Cade Weets, Jayden Hansen, Carter Sutherland, Aiden McChesney, Autumn LaBrune, Maryann Pagel, Ava Guida, Taya Christensen, Summer LaBrune, Jilian Schoenfeld, Clara Pagel, Jaeryn Buchert, Hannah Dagel. Middle row (L to R): Aidan Johnson, Ben Guida, Colby Frahm, Emily Alexander, Contessa Baartman, Kaytlin Gorter, Ava Schoenfield, Faith Thomsen, Kate Cowell, Tatum Hess, Halle Gravley, Calin Kor, Grace Klumper, Jacey Jorgensen and Ellie Frahm. Back row (L to R): Logan Roelofs, Justin Spindler, Colton Appel, Anthony Lovre, Anthony Gilmore, Emmett Petersen, Carson Gylling, Skeylar Martinez, Hunter Hulstein-Safstrom, Darrick Baartman, Tucker Haroldson, Luke Ellefson, Payton Swanson, Caleb Witte, Brady Gifford, Timothy Gilmore and Jake Johnson.

TYLER – A year without a spring sports season presents a bit of a unique challenge entering the following season.

Not only was a group of seniors unable to compete in their final season at the high school level, but there is also a group of young kids that was unable to work with the coaching staff in 2020.

“Instead of just one class of new kids, there will be two new groups who have never experienced a meet or practice,” Russell-Tyler-Ruthton track and field coach Ted Kern said. “(It) might make things interesting early in the season.”

The double influx of youth means nearly half of the 57 students in the Knights track and field program are new to the team in 2021.

“Thirty of (the 57) have participated in the past,” Kern said. “While we will definitely miss the seniors that graduated without the chance to participate last spring, we will have a good core of veteran leaders to help the new kids learn the ropes.”

The coaching staff is using the early part of the season to give everyone an opportunity to try some new events, even the veterans.

RTR has nine seniors in the track and field program, including eight boys.

Kern believes a couple of areas of strength for his teams are sprinters and throwers.

The youth of the team is exciting for Kern, who enjoys watching the development of the newcomers.

“I really look forward to seeing the improvement shown by our young kids and first-timers,” Kern said. “I always enjoy watching them figure things out as that first season progresses for those kids. Without benchmarks from last year, everyone is pretty much starting from ground zero as far as areas to improve on. A lot can change in the twenty months since these kids have last participated.”

With the long layoff, Kern is just looking forward to seeing his team compete and hopes to see improvement through the season.

“(I hope they) improve as individuals and a team and enjoy the experience and the time with each other,” he said. “I am most looking forward to getting the kids on a track again. It’s been too long.”


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