A fifth-place finish at the state tournament was the goal for the Minot High boys track and field team last season. They finished sixth.
Falling one spot short of their season-long goal was all the Magicians needed as motivation this year. They look to showcase that motivation today in the West Region Indoor meet at the Minot State Dome at 4 p.m.
"Not getting fifth place stung a little bit," Minot senior Alex Yanosko said. "We were disappointed, so we've all trained a little harder in the offseason to prepare for this and hopefully we get better than fifth."
Minot High senior Tyler Frank practices his triple jump Wednesday at the Minot State Dome. The Magicians open their season today in the West Region Indoor meet.
Helping their cause is their ability to have at least one contender in each field event, something that hasn't happened in a number of years. Minot had just three athletes crack the top 10 in the seven field events.
"We have options all over the place," Minot coach Aaron Klingbeil said. "Pole vault is a streaky event, but at the same time, Ben Love was a good contender last year. Alex Yanosko broke the school record in the triple jump. We picked up a couple of new jumpers, and they could definitely change the way our jumps look, but we don't know that until we see them do it."
Love, a senior, finished tied for ninth in the pole vault last year with a height of 12 feet, 6 inches. Yanosko's school record of 44-2.00 in the triple jump was good for third. He also finished seventh in the long jump with a mark of 21-1.25.
Yanosko, who will play football at Bemidji State in the fall, said his surgically-repaired right knee is fine and the thought of sitting out the track and field season never crossed his mind.
"I've been determined to get back since day one," Yanosko said. "The day after surgery, I was doing physical therapy six times a day until I could walk, and then, I was doing it eight times a day. I'm not surprised at all. I knew I'd be here and contributing positively to this team."
Yanosko was part of the 400-meter relay team that took first at state last year with a time of 43.16 seconds.
Junior sprinter Karter Gorney returns after winning the 100 dash as a sophomore. Gorney was the lone Magician to capture a state title in an individual event. He was the final leg of the 400 relay as well.
"We have a group that is the returning relay champions and we had a sophomore win last year at state, so things look good," Klingbeil said. "They're, of course, hungry. They want to break records. They want to try and win again. They have very high hopes and so do we."
Klingbeil said he hopes to build a stronger group of runners in the 200 and 400. Gorney qualified for state in the 200, but didn't make it out of the preliminaries.
As for the long-distance events, the Magicians are looking toward senior Andrew Beach to lead the charge. Beach finished 12th in the 1,600 and 11th in the 3,200 last year.
"We have a stronger distance group coming back," Klingbeil said. "There's good leadership with Andrew Beach, and after him, there's quite a few that have matured a lot since last year."
Said Yanosko: "We're looking to get some points everywhere and hoping to get better than sixth place."
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State men's club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.