New-look Pekin boys show same old promise
PACKWOOD — Davis Eidahl has seen a lot of athletes come and go in 50 years as a track and field coach at Pekin.
Rarely, though, has he seen year-to-year turnover as substantial as Pekin’s most recent one. Gone from last year’s squad are 13 graduates, and nine of them were past performers at the state meet.
“This year’s track team will have a very different look,” said Eidahl. “Many four-year letter winners and state meet qualifiers have graduated.”
None of the 13 departed athletes have left a bigger void than Bryce Sines, who not only won the Class 1A 200-meter dash but scored 24 points on his own at last year’s state meet. Sines also finished runner-up in the long jump, third in the 100-meter dash and 10th in the high jump in Des Moines to cap his illustrious career.
In addition, the Panthers will be without Trey Sathoff, the school’s record holder in the high jump who missed all of last season with an injury, as well as Derek Morales, who placed third in the Class 1A shot put last spring. Several others in the 2012 class qualified to numerous events at state and earned multiple letters during their tenures.
Still, Eidahl is confident the athletes he’s been left with can continue Pekin’s tradition of excellence this spring. Six state qualifiers and a solid senior class return to lead the way.
Seniors Quentin Garrels, Graham Wittrock and Eli Harper each ran on three of Pekin’s five state-qualifying relays last year and will be the basis of Pekin’s success. Garrels was part of the state-qualifying 4x100, 4x200 and distance medley relays. Graham Wittrock was on the 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 relays while Harper ran at state on the 4x400, distance medley and 4x800.
Other seniors Chase Earnest and Cory Loyd were both state qualifiers in the shuttle hurdle relay last year, as well, and Pekin will count on Earnest in the high jump now that Sines and Sathoff have graduated.
Christian Wittrock, a sophomore, made it to Des Moines last spring in both the 4x100 and 4x200, and junior Eric Adam qualified in the shot put as a sophomore.
Joining Adam in the shot put will be fellow junior Jared Bond, who should double down in both throwing events this year. Junior Cade Millikin is a two-year letter winner and the team’s top miler.
Sophomore Tanner Adam will be tasked with helping the shuttle hurdle relay back to state, while sophomores Cole Reighard and Avery Bennett and senior Thomas Slaney will be key components in the middle distances.
“During the early part of our season we will depend on and base our success on how [this group] of boys does,” said Eidahl.
Going forward, Eidahl also said freshmen such as Chase Copeland, Austin Farris, Keaton Winn and Ryan Swanson will be counted on to create a well-balanced Panther team.
“We hope that as the season moves along, we will gain experience and maturity at the varsity level. By the end of the season at districts, we should be a strong, well-balanced team,” said Eidahl, who will once again be helped by 46-year assistant coach Bill Rex and weights coach Mitch Mohr.
The Pekin boys open up the outdoor season today at their own Ruritan Relays.