Wanous, Gustafson finish careers strong at state meet
The Kasson-Mantorville track and field team has a tough draw when it comes to qualifying for the state meet every year. In the current twoclass system, the KoMets are mixed into Class AA where they have to compete against schools that have enrollments that dwarf the talent pool that K-M has.
With that in mind, it’s always a big meet when somebody breaks through and gets to the state meet and as Tyler Wanous and Brennan Gustafson made their way to Hamline University in St. Paul last week, there were signs along Highway 57 showing their support as they rubbed elbows with some of the top athletes in the state.
“Just making it to state in [Class AA] is extremely hard and it’s impressive,” Pittman admitted. “It really allows both Tyler and Brennan to jump-start their careers next year. Hopefully, they’re both going to run track in college and I think this is their launching point to get there.”
“When I got to state I realized how much bigger the competition was than in our section,” Wanous added. “I’m just a kid from a school with two towns that make up 7,000 people compared to these other schools that are from areas with 60,000. It’s just amazing.”
Wanous would punch his ticket in the high jump two weeks ago at the Section 1AA meet in Lakeville, but would look to break his personal best 6-03.00 leap from that meet on the state’s biggest stage. Even though he couldn’t quite clear his own personal record, he still finished with a jump of 6-02.00 to finish 13th in the event.
“I was happy with how I did,” Wanous said of his performance. “I was struggling with [six feet, two inches] all year long and to make it up there for sections and the state meet, I was really pleased with that. I’m going to look back with pride and I’m really happy with how my season ended. If I could change anything, I don’t think that I would.”
Gustafson made his way to the 400 meter dash by way of winning the finals in Lakeville and with experience of being a two-time cross country qualifier in his back pocket, he felt like he had a bit of an edge that some competitors may not have had. “It was calming to have that experience,” Gustafson admitted. “But it wasn’t until I got up there and competed with the kids when I got comfortable.”
Competing in the preliminary heat last Thursday, Gustafson also fared well with a 50.75 time that was just off of his 50.26 mark at the section meet.
Although his time wasn’t good enough to finish in the top nine and advance to the finals, the senior insists he’ll have fond memories of his final meet as a KoMet. “I feel like I did the best of my abilities,” Gustafson reflected. “I’m going to have all the memories from the culture that we had with the cross country and track teams.”
In the end, Gustafson, Wanous and the rest of the senior class helped first-year track coach Pittman have a solid season overlooking the program and their impact won’t soon be forgotten. “They were both great to have because they did what they were supposed to,” Pittman explained. “There wasn’t any complaining or ‘I wish we were doing this instead.’ It was ‘We’ll do it’ and they did it hard. That leadership by example was the best thing that either one of them could have done.”