The St. Croix Falls Saints boys track and field team captured the West Lakeland conference title last season. SCF was prepared to make it two straight titles this year when suddenly the rug was pulled out from underneath them.
“We lost two track athletes in a tragic car accident in February in McKinley Erickson and Kegan Koshiol.” St. Croix Falls head boys’ coach Kris Wallace said. “While both would have been big contributors on the track, their infectious personalities, hard work and easy smiles will be missed more.”
Shortly after the terrible car accident broke the hearts of the entire Saints’ community the spring sports seasons were canceled due to Covid-19. We will never know if St. Croix Falls could have pulled things together to claim their second straight conference title.
St. Croix Falls lost Tyler Cooper, Anthony DeLuca, Isiah Hoggatt, Ryan Peltz, Will Radinzel, Sean Schaber, and Spencer Steek after their conference title last season due to graduation. Coach Wallace was anticipating a solid senior class for 2020 including Colby Hutton, Jack Kessler, Logan Ross, Andrew Opel, Sebastian Austad, Anthony Will, Boden Enochs, Mateo Villanueva, Trevor LaMirande, Derek Fisk, and Garrett Brown. Ross competed at the State meet in the 110m hurdles and Austad in the discus in 2019.
“Additionally, we had half of our State qualifying 4x200m relay team returning with their alternates ready to step in with Logan Ross, Anthony Will, Boden Enochs, and Andrew Opel,” Wallace noted.
Returning letter winners from last season included Austad, Enochs, Fisk, Kessler, LaMirande, Opel, Ross, Will, Tristan Hanson, Viktor Knigge, Layton Borst and Mason Peer. This solid core of athletes would have been tough to beat come tournament time. Overall St. Croix Falls anticipated a roster of about 30.
“Our boys were looking forward to defending their conference title won last year for one last time before we moved to the Heart of the North conference in the 2021 season,” Wallace said. “While we lost a number of letter winners from the previous year, our boys were determined to try to go out on top. It’s hard to say if they would have achieved that goal but I know they would have put the work in to give themselves the best chance.”
True, the St. Croix Falls track and field team didn’t get a chance to defend their conference title but more importantly they didn’t get a chance to be with each other under difficult circumstances.
“This year’s large senior group remained mostly intact from their freshman year until now and their growth as athletes has been a joy to watch,” Wallace said. “My heart goes out to those athletes who have dedicated themselves to the program and to each other, but never had the opportunity to put a bow on their high school career. Whether it was the opportunity to return to State or to simply better a personal record, track offers a great opportunity to see growth and improvement that can be seen as you look back on past performances. While some of them are going to run in college, most will not and the lost season has been difficult to come to terms with. It’s a bitter pill to swallow now, but I know that these athletes will go on to great things in the years to come and I look forward to hearing all about them when they do.”
“The fact that we didn’t get to see out our senior year of track was truly heartbreaking, due largely to the fact that we no longer had the opportunity to prove ourselves coming off of one of our team’s best seasons in years,” Opel added. “Going from conference champs to a complete cancellation was a large shift that not all of us were completely prepared for. We were all totally ready to go out there and win again, pushing hard just like every other year. I know deep down that our class could have pulled it off. However, we know that there are larger battles to be fought, and while we may not get to compete for the conference championship this year, we will never forget our team bond and the experience that we have shared this year.”