Kee boys track team returns single letterwinner for 2015 season

2015 Kee boys track team: Left to right - Front row: Brock Flack, Marquise Phillips, Hunter Otto. Second row: Danny Brennan, Tucker Colsch, William Mitchell, Jacob Walleser. Third row: Brandon Conway, Cody Rosendahl, Johnathon Mooney. Back row: Logan Flack, Brock Colsch, Ethan Walleser. Not pictured: Nate Wood, Marshall Johnson. Photo courtesy of the Kee High School Yearbook.

The 2015 Kee boys track team includes a pleasantly surprising larger number of participants than what third-year coach Nick Mooney was anticipating, as 15 young men have reported for early-season duty. Somewhat alarming, however, is the fact that just one veteran with varsity letterwinning experience returns for the Hawks this season.
“A great surprise is the amount of guys that came out this year, especially the first-year guys,” Coach Mooney said. “I was expecting a team half the size of what we ended up with. (Senior) Marquise Phillips is the only returning letter winner. As a coach, it is tough to provide individual feedback when I am trying to work with multiple athletes at the same time. Grouping the less experienced guys with the more experienced guys is critical for feedback and success.”
Phillips was a newcomer to the Kee track program last season who contributed greatly to the Hawks’ sprint events and the high jump. He is joined by just two other seniors this season, Hunter Otto and Brandon Conway, with that same number of juniors also joining them in providing this year’s upperclassmen leadership. The seven members of this season’s sophomore class provide the largest single class total for this year’s squad, with Coach Mooney seeing all classes working well together so far to make each other the best they can be.
“The guys have been great about encouraging one another and pushing each other to do better,” the third-year coach said. “They have been figuring out who they can compete with at practice and challenging themselves to get better.”
With that early-season work ethic being established in the first weeks’ worth of work-outs, the fine tuning of figuring out an event line-up will unfold as the Hawks’ season does. “Our strength is that we are working hard and that we are athletic,” Coach Mooney explained. “Our weakness is that we are lacking a lot of experience. This is the first time I have coached many of these guys and it is their first time out for track, so it is going to take some time to figure out what events the guys will be competing in.”
Much larger than those specific details for each meet are the overall accomplishments Coach Mooney would like to see his team work toward this season. “We would like to be serious contenders at every meet we go to,” he said. “It can be tough to win meets with our numbers and our inability to compete in every event. However, last year we earned more points than the year before and we would like to keep that upward trend. As always, we want as many guys as possible to go on to State.”
The Hawks’ lone State Meet qualifier from last season was lost to graduation, along with additional team leadership, especially in the throwing field events. “We lost a couple of guys that were great role models on and off the track,” Coach Mooney said of this season’s replacement efforts. “Jason Delaney qualified for State in the 800 meters and Nick Gavin was our only throwing competitor.”
Kee’s early-season preparation will be put to the test even earlier than anticipated, as the Upper Iowa Conference Indoor Meet hosted by Luther College in Decorah and was originally scheduled for March 23 has, instead, been moved up an entire week to Monday, March 16. “We had a tough conference last year; North Fayette Valley, Central, Turkey Valley, South Winneshiek and MFL/MarMac all performed well last year, and I am sure that won’t change,” Coach Mooney said of this season’s outlook. “The guys are coming into this year in good shape and with a lot of ambition. If we can maintain that through our rigorous schedule, we should be successful.”