Lions hungry for success

In order to qualify for the state track and field meet, athletes must finish among the top three in their respective events at the regional competition.

Last season, Bishop Ryan had far too many competitors finish fourth.

But the Lions aren’t dwelling on the past. They’re using it to motivate them.

Their fresh start begins today with an indoor meet at the Minot State Dome, beginning at 1 p.m.

“It’s like being a bronze or silver medalist at the Olympics,” senior jumper Erin MacLead said. “They know that they almost got the gold, and they know that if they work a little harder, practice a little more, that they can get the gold next time.

“We know that if we work a little harder and get closer as a team, we can get there and make state.”

MacLead has been involved in track and field since seventh grade. At the regional meet last season, she finished fourth in the triple jump.

Now in her final season, she’s hoping to finally realize her dream of state qualification.

“I know I’ve got this year to make it happen,” MacLead said. “I’m so close. I want to get it this year, and I’m going to try really, really hard.”

Senior thrower Quinn Harmon was the only Ryan representative at the state meet last year. In her only event – shot put – Harmon threw 35-01.00, good for seventh place and the only team points Ryan received (2).

The Lions expect this year to be different, athletes and coaches alike.

“We had a really young team last year, and we still are young, but now we’re one year more experienced,” Ryan second-year coach Darin Bail said. “Now, they just need to stay positive and focus on the minute details that will push them over the top.”

Said junior Kyler Roteliuk: “I think our team is going to be a lot better this year. Getting so close and taking fourth place last year will be great motivation for us this season.”

Roteliuk belonged to two fourth-place relay teams last spring.

A key addition for the Lions this season will be junior thrower Dakota Johnson, who will participate in track and field for the first time.

Johnson was a Class AA all-state football selection and qualified for state in wrestling at 195 pounds.

The idea to take up track never occurred to Johnson until Bail approached him in the offseason.

“He was trying to get a good team together, and apparently my name was one of the ones that came up,” said Johnson, who will also compete in the 55-meter dash. “I thought it sounded fun, so I decided to give it a try.”

Though he is a first-year participant, Johnson is expected to push Ryan athletes to their limit. In fact, Bail has already seen that happen.

“We’ve already got some good speed on the team,” Bail said. “He brings a whole new dimension of power that we lack in our sprints. He’ll push our runners. They see him as a power that they want to be able to compete with.”

The Lions are hungry for success, the kind of success that has already been within their grasp.

Bail believes that a successful year will strengthen track and field participation at Ryan, something he feels has been lacking in the past.

“We had one eighth grader and one seventh grader last year. Now, we have 15 total,” Bail said. “That’s encouraging for where the track program is headed at this school.

“Track hasn’t always been viewed as a focal point here, and I think that’s starting to change a little bit.”

Today’s meet will begin with pole vaulting at 1 p.m., followed by throwing and jumping at 1:30. Runners will begin competing at 3.

Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch-MDN.