Wildcat girls look to defend RRC title
WORTHINGTON -- The beginning of April is upon us, and area track and field teams have been gearing up for the season since practice began March 12.
The Red Rock Conference figures to be a competitive league once again. Here's a look at some of the key athletes coming back for the girls' teams.
The returning conference champions bring back several athletes, and head coach John Cselovszki hopes his Southwestern United Wildcats can contend for another title.
Seniors Amanda Baumgarn (sprints, long jump), Linnea Henkels (weights, sprints), Shannon Hussong (pole vault, hurdles), Whitney Pelzel (distance) and Rachel Wilson (distance) are among the most experienced returning performers.
Sophomores Betsy Voehl and Jenna Leopold, and freshman Bria Baumgard are among a young group of sprinters/jumpers, while eighth-grader Cassie Cselovszki is a distance runner.
Murray County Central
While the Murray County Central Rebels lost seven seniors from last year, head coach Dominick Damm welcomes back a strong group of returning letterwinners from last year's conference runner-up squad.
Senior Ashley Bose is the team's top thrower, while junior Brittany Blomgren competes in the hurdles.
Sophomores Laura Christensen (distance), Cassie Gleis (middle distance) and Steph Janke (middle distance) are expected to make an impact.
Freshmen Colleen Everson and Alyssa Schmidt compete in the jumping/sprinting events, while eighth-graders Abby Van Meveren and Lexy Gleis compete in the hurdles and middle-distance events, respectively.
Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central
With nine returning letterwinners, the Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central Chargers are hoping to put together another successful season.
Sophomore Krystle Sell (sprints, pole vault) is the top returning point-scorer. Senior Britta Engen (hurdles, high jump, sprints) and sophomore Thea Engen (triple jump, distance) were also among last season's top performers.
Junior Emily Engen (middle distance) and sophomore Ashton Scarset (sprints) return with experience, as do freshmen Sami Baker (distance), Melody Horkey (sprints) and Kali St. Hilaire (weights, sprints, middle distance).
Eighth-grader Cierra Nickel (sprints) also lettered a year ago, and classmate Chanel Madson could make an impact as a sprinter and a hurdler this year for head coach Joan Zieske.
Head coach Randy Pfeifle brings back 11 letterwinners, as the Southwest Christian Eagles have a good mix of youth and experience.
Sophomore Brianna Spronk will look to guide a solid unit of middle distance runners, which also includes sophomore Briana Zeinstra, and freshmen Kayla Broekhuis and Mary Buys.
Senior Amber Buys is expected to lead the sprinters. Senior Chelsea Christians, junior Courtney De Kam and sophomore Lacy Bobb will also compete in the sprints.
Sophomore Katelyn Gravenhof and seventh-grader Megan De Ruyter are the top distance runners for the Eagles.
Senior Laura Perli, juniors Amber Van't Hof and Jessica Walhof, and sophomore Chelsey Hoogland are among the other Eagles who will contribute.
Depth will be a strength for the Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin Wolverines, as they return 10 letterwinners and have several other potential point-scorers.
Senior Kaysee Nesmoe returns as a top-flight performer in the shot put and discus. She will also compete in the hurdle events.
Seniors Heidi Hildebrandt (middle distance, jumps), Haley Kratovil (long jump, sprints) and Kim Boike (hurdles, triple jump) will contribute in their respective events.
Juniors Chelsey Fast (sprints, long jump), Bethany Nelson (distance) and Natalia Krahn (hurdles, high jump) join freshmen Petra Nelson (distance) and eighth-graders Kaitlin Feil (middle distance, hurdles, long jump) and Karina Fast (distance) as the other top prospects under interim head coach Paul Metcalf.
There is a definite strength for the Adrian Dragons: distance running.
The Dragons, coached by Doug Petersen, are loaded with runners, many of who also run on the two-time state champion cross country team.
Sophomores Morgan Lynn, Kourtney Kramer, Leslie Stover and Erica Thier, along with senior Megan Henning, eighth-grader Hailee Heitkamp and seventh-grader Austyn Thier, make up the core of distance runners.
Junior Bridget Block is the top thrower for the Dragons.
Bringing back several key contributors from a year ago, the Fulda Raiders should be able to fill every event with quality athletes.
Senior Shannon Fischer returns in the weight events for Fulda, while a good number of juniors, sophomores and freshmen also return with experience.
Mandy Gunderman (800), Brooke Kuehne (sprints, triple jump, pole vault), Sara Pearson (hurdles, sprints), Kaysea Canfield (sprints) and Emily Kremer (pole vault) are the top returning juniors.
Blake Ahlers (high jump), Taylor Baumhoefner (pole vault), Erica Drealan (distance), Marti Holinka (sprints), Amy Paulzine (weights), Tara Salentiny (sprints, long jump) and Syd Strom (hurdles) are the sophomores who will need to step up for head coach Rich Hup.
The freshmen class includes Stormy Canfield (sprints), Lane Gehl (middle distance, triple jump), Mari Holinka (high jump, 400) and Krissa Kramer (middle distance).
Bringing back four seniors and a pair of juniors, the Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth/Edgerton Patriots should have good leadership this spring.
Seniors Mya Mann (middle distance), Amanda Connors (sprints, jumps), Laura Timmer (weights) and Amanda Tilstra (middle distance) return with the most experience for head coach Tom Goehle.
Juniors Jocelyn Bucher and Ashley Bucher will compete in the middle distance, sprinting and jumping events.
There are several other younger athletes that will compete, as evidenced by the 89 participants (boys and girls) in grades 7-12.