The Lakeville South boys’ track program is on the rise. Senior captain Mitchell Jacobson would like to see it clear the next hurdle — winning the Class 3A True Team state championship.

“We definitely can be one of the top two teams in the state,” Jacobson said. “We have everyone coming back from last year.”

The Cougars finished fourth with 796 points in the True Team event a year ago. Wayzata won the title with 871 points for a fourth consecutive year.

“Wayzata will be a tough team to beat again,” Lakeville South coach Jonathon Gilmer said. “The True Team meet is always a great meet with the very best teams in the state competing against each other. We think we can improve on our fourth-place finish from last year, but as in all championship competitions, lots of things have to go right for you.”

Gilmer doesn’t have to worry about leadership with this year’s group. He has five senior captains in Jacobson (100, 200 and 4x100), Mike Kennedy (1,600 and 3,200), Eric Rousemiller (discus and shot put), Josiah Udo (200, long jump and triple jump) and Josh Willard (800).

“Each of these guys has developed into great leaders, and our underclassman respect their leadership and goals they have set for the team,” Gilmer said.

He also welcomes back six others who advanced to the Class 2A individual state meet a year ago. They are seniors Ethan Buckles (100) and Noah Shafer (pole vault), juniors Logan Gudmundson (4x100), Jeremiah Jacobson (100, 200 and 4x100), Marquis Tonsager (long jump) and sophomore Sam Moerbitz (1,600).

“We have a good core of returning athletes but will need some of the younger athletes to develop and fill in the holes from last year’s seniors,” Gilmer said. “We need to develop some jumpers, and some pole vaulters. We have quality individuals in all of the events.”

Jacobson said he and his younger brother have their sights set on the school record in the 4x100. They, along with Gudmundson and the graduated Clayton Geary, have the second-fastest time of 42.87 seconds. The school mark is 42.72.

“We want to really break that school record,” Jacobson said. “We work well as a team.”

The younger Jacobson already owns the school records in the 100 (10.64) and 200 (22.22), two marks the older Jacobson isn’t going to break any time soon.

“It’s not magical. I’m not going to become a second faster overnight,” Jacobson said. He is 4 inches shorter than his younger brother — Mitchell is 5-9 while Jeremiah is 6-1.

Current team members have a hand in 10 of the school’s all-time records. Their success, along with back-to-back appearances in the True Team state meet, has led to a new fondness in the program. With 110 participants, this year’s squad is the largest in the 12-year history of the school.

“Everybody wants to be a part of a winning program,” Jacobson said.

It’s a far cry from where the program was when Jacobson entered it four years ago. In the Section 1 True Team meet, the Cougars finished sixth in 2013, his freshman year, and fifth in 2014.

“It’s been a complete 180-degree turnaround,” Jacobson said. “It has built so much confidence in all of us.”

Jacobson and his teammates have even higher expectations in 2017.

“This is my last hurrah, so it’s a big deal to me,” Jacobson said. “I want to go out with a bang.”