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Prep track and field preview: Riders rely on depth

After listing off about a dozen of his top returners for this season, Grand Forks Red River boys track and field coach Bob Zimney pointed out one name that was missing from the group.

After listing off about a dozen of his top returners for this season, Grand Forks Red River boys track and field coach Bob Zimney pointed out one name that was missing from the group.

"We don't have a Ryan Todhunter," Zimney said. "But I've been coaching a lot of years and there haven't been many Ryan Todhunters."

The challenge for the Roughriders this year will be if that large list of talented returners, which led Red River to a second-place state finish in 2009, can make up for the graduation of record-setting hurdler Ryan Todhunter, who now competes at the University of Minnesota.

"Last year for the state meet, we took qualifiers in all 19 events," Zimney said. "There are lots of years when that doesn't happen. But it looks like once again, we'll have a team that covers a lot of different events. We have a good balance of athletes."

Zimney said the Riders scored 190 points at the East Region meet last season. Red River graduated only 70 of those points.

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"... and hopefully all those guys can move up," Zimney said.

Some of Red River's success this year will depend on the health of senior Tyler Gefroh, a member of two state champion relay teams last year.

Gefroh, who will attend North Dakota State on a football scholarship in the fall, had knee surgery this winter. Gefroh hasn't participated in Red River's indoor track and field season.

"He'll be back, but we're not sure when," Zimney said. "It wasn't the big ACL knee surgery that he had. He's already been running with us a little bit."

The Riders will also rely heavily on senior Elby Pope, who ran a leg on Red River's state championship 4x100 relay team last year.

At the Paul Bunyan indoor meet in Bemidji on Thursday, Pope won the 55 meters, 200 meters and long jump en route to co-MVP honors.

"He's really improved," Zimney said. "He's a lot stronger and quicker. He's looked good during indoor season."

Zimney also said Matt Loehr, Alex Hickel, Jimmy Evers and Kellen Plutowski have had strong indoor years.

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Like last season, Bismarck High is the runaway favorite for the state team title. Zimney said the Riders are looking for another top-five finish.

"We're pretty optimistic that we'll have a good team."

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to tmiller@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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