By Jim Rueda firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mankato Free Press
---- — MANKATO — Not too bad for a guy who just kind of fell into the sport.
A good basketball player in his youth, Matt Bornholdt arrived at Mankato East as a seventh-grader, looking for a sport he could do in the spring. Golf and tennis were foreign to him so that left baseball or track.
“I used to play baseball, but I wasn’t any good at it,” Bornholdt said. “So I decided to go with track.”
That seems to have worked out well for the senior. The 6-foot-4 Bornholdt has been a key member of the East basketball team the last few seasons and has developed into one of the top discus throwers in the Big Nine Conference.
In part because of his size, Bornholdt was made a thrower right away when he walked on to the track team. His strength and technique improved each year, and he started competing at the varsity level as a sophomore.
Last spring, as a junior, Bornholdt picked the section meet to deliver the best discus throw of his career — 142 feet — to earn a state tournament berth.
“I guess my timing was pretty good on that one,” Bornholdt said. “I’d like to get back to state, and I’d like to take a shot at the school record of 161 feet. I know that’s quite a bit farther than I’ve thrown before, but it’s a goal to reach for.”
East coach Jon Dierks said Bornholdt is the kind of student athlete any coach would be glad to have on his team.
“He’s a good kid, he’s a 4.1 student and he does anything you ask him to do,” Dierks said. “In addition to the shot and discus, he’s run the 100 for us and he’s also done the high jump. He’s just willing to help the team any way he can.”
Although he’s nothing special in the high jump, Bornholdt likes it because it requires the same type of explosiveness needed to be good in the throws.
“I think they help each other,” he said. “I’ll probably practice the high jump a little more this year than I have in the past.”
Bornholdt did just fine in the high jump at an indoor meet at Minnesota State on Thursday, winning the event at 5-feet-6.
As for the overall East team, the numbers are good this year. The program has about 75 kids out in grades 9-12 and another 50 in grades 7 and 8.
The sprints should be a team strength with Ben Schwartz and Anjola Onadipe returning. The throws will also be strong with Bornholdt and Logan Swanson, who is recuperating from a shoulder injury, back in the mix.
“We were second to last in the Big Nine last year, but I think we can move up to the Top 3,” Dierks said. “That’s a big jump, but if we stay healthy, I think we can do it.”
The coach said qualifying two relays and at least five individuals to state is another team goal.
At Thursday’s indoor meet hosted by Blue Earth Area, the Bucs’ Brandon Olson won the 55-meter high hurdles in 8.70.
East’s 4x200 relay of Onadipe, Kaje Warren, Roderick Miller and Schwartz finished first in 1:36.6. The Cougars’ Nic Seiler won the 400 meters in 55.38.
Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial’s Matt Scheetz took the 55-meter dash in 6.67, and John Roth won the 1,600 meters in 4:59.
Eight events still remained when the paper went to press.