Wagner: Area continues to be a track and field hotbed
It's been a few years since Brock Spandl made the headlines for his achievements on the track for Moorhead High School. But now, as a junior at the University of Minnesota, he's making a name for himself as an all-around athlete for the Gophers. ...
It's been a few years since Brock Spandl made the headlines for his achievements on the track for Moorhead High School.
But now, as a junior at the University of Minnesota, he's making a name for himself as an all-around athlete for the Gophers.
Growing up in Moorhead, Spandl played soccer and hockey. But it was on the track where he really shined in the hurdles and pole vault, an event in which he owns the Moorhead High School record.
Those experiences appear to have served him well. This past weekend Spandl finished 10th overall in the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The seven-event heptathlon showcases an athlete's all-around ability in running, vaulting, jumping and throwing. During this year's indoor championships, Spandl bested all heptathlon competitors in the pole vault.
It's not always easy to keep tabs on everyone with a connection to our local schools - high school or college - as they move away to pursue new athletic endeavors.
By chance, when I was flipping through the TV channels a week ago, I stopped to watch a bit of the Big Ten Conference's indoor track championship.
That's when I noticed Spandl, who finished third in the heptathlon at that meet, and Joe Plencner, a former Fargo South athlete and a senior pole vaulter on the Gophers team. Plencner set the North Dakota high school pole vault record as a member of the Bruins.
Our area appears to double as a recruiting hotbed for the Gophers, whose men's team includes former South athletes Luke Silovich, a senior hurdler, and Adam Isakson, a redshirt freshman who also specializes in the pole vault.
In addition, former Perham, Minn., runners David Krueger and Kevin Lachowitzer are on the Gopher track and cross country teams.
On the women's side, Jeri Johnson-Chambers, a redshirt freshman who throws the shot put and discus, also hails from Moorhead.
All the local ties to the Gophers highlight the depth of track and field talent in our area since there certainly are other local athletes competing for other universities.
One of the most telling and interesting displays of our area's talent was underscored by the number of athletes with local ties in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, where at least six athletes with ties to Fargo or North Dakota State University competed.
To me, it just further shows we are a running community with no signs of slowing down. Strong high school programs, with coaches who foster the talent of their young athletes, are reaching new competitive levels.
Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found at www.areavoices.com/runningspud .
He can be reached at (701) 241-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org .