Arrows lead strong area contingent
PIPESTONE -- Over most of the past decade, the Pipestone Area Arrows have been a perennial powerhouse in girls' track and field.
With nine girls returning with state meet experience, PA appears to be loaded again this year.
"We are looking for our girls to be real competitive," says veteran head coach Todd Tinklenberg. "In addition to our large group of experienced runners, we have a bunch of young runners coming up that will contribute to the varsity."
All-around athletes Faith Tinklenberg, a junior, and senior Steph Kocourek both competed in three events at the state meet in 2006, each running on a pair of Arrow relay teams.
Senior sprinter Carolyn Cooper won the Southwest Conference 100 meter dash title and made the finals in that event at the state meet, placing eighth.
Kocourek placed fourth at state in the 300 meter low hurdles.
Sophomore distance runners Ann Dykstra and Kaila Hamann, along with freshman Amanda Schoonhoven, joined Faith Tinklenberg on the PA 4 x 800 relay team that finished fifth in the 2006 state meet.
Sophomore Jenna Kozlowski and eighth-grader Bree Woelber return, along with Kocourek and Tinklenberg, from the Arrow 4 x 400 team that finished an impressive third at last year's state finals.
Senior high-jumper Beth Tinklenberg (conference champ in 2006), freshman sprinter Alyssa Petterson, freshman long jumper-triple jumper Angie Stevens and shot putter-discus throwers Amanda Hillard, a junior, and Trisha Sumption, an eighth-grader, are the other top returning athletes expected to lead PA this spring.
While Pipestone Area ran away with last year's conference meet, racking up 176 points, Luverne finished a solid second with 110 -- and the Cardinals return 19 letterwinners from that squad.
Headlining the long list of returning LHS veterans is junior Lexi Heitkamp, who qualified for the state meet in the 800 meter run in both 2004 and 2005.
Seniors Erin Hoiland, LaRae Kor, Lexi Peterson, Debbie Schneiderman, Katie Schneiderman, Brittany Vogt and Morgan Bosshart give long-time head coach Craig Nelson seven experienced leaders.
Stephanie Hendricks and Amanda Kannas join Heitkamp as junior letterwinners, while five sophomores -- Ariella Bucher, Abby Elbers, Rachel Nath, Kayla Raddle and Andrea Rosin -- also return for the Cardinals.
A trio of freshmen -- Britton Dyer, Callie Sawtelle and Alyssa Stegenga -- gained varsity experience last year, as did eighth-grader Katlyn Sawtelle.
The Cardinals have a total of 50 girls participating, including 32 -- eight freshmen, nine eighth-graders and 15 seventh-graders -- in the bottom three grades.
The Eagles have both quality and quantity coming back off a fine 2006 season.
Conference 400 meter dash champion Holly Knigge received a WHS diploma last spring. She was a major force -- at nearly any distance -- on the track and will be hard to replace.
But senior Maggie LaMaack, a high-caliber performer in four events (both hurdles, both horizontal jumps), was Windom's leading scorer last spring.
Joining LaMaack as expected high point producers for the Eagles this year are junior Christy Nepp (discus and shot put), junior Alex Potter (middle distance, pole vault), senior Alyssa Lyons (conference champ, pole vault) and a solid distance running corps, led by senior Jenna Sorenson and freshmen Chelsea Garrison.
Freshmen sprinter Abby Luitjens, along with junior Maria Lund and freshmen Lindsay Elston -- both hurdlers and jumpers -- are back with experience, as are freshman Emily Grandprey, eighth-grader Emily Turner and junior Katie Turner in the middle distance events.
Coaching the Eagles this spring is Kelly Brinkman, who starred as a middle distance runner at Hutchinson in the late '90s, winning a trio of state championships in the 800 meter run.
Jackson County Central
Nine letterwinners return -- including state meet sprinters Amanda Darling and Ashley Lucht -- for JCC.
Darling, a senior, is the defending conference champion in the 200 meter dash. She finished third in that event at the state meet, after placing second in the long jump. Darling and Lucht both ran on a pair of high-placing relay teams at the state meet, as JCC finished second in the 4 x 200 and third in the 4 x 100.
Elizabeth Nasby and Emily Balster both graduated off of those sprint relay teams.
Darling, who earned four medals at the state meet, was JCC's leading scorer last spring. Lucht -- a junior this year -- finished third in points in 2006.
JCC's other returning letterwinners this season are seniors Lacie Mosley (distance runner, shot-putter) Steph Schultz and Beth Ruby, along with junior Sarah Buresch (middle distance) and the sophomore trio of Brittany Deel (long distance), Alyssa Nelson (shot put, discus) and Kateyan Ruby, who is sidelined with an injury.
Beth Ruby, a middle distance runner, pole vaulter and high jumper, was sixth in scoring for the Huskies last spring. Schultz, who is JCC's top hurdler and runs on the Husky 4 x 400, was eighth in points in 2006.
JCC is again co-coached by Brian Cook and Bob Ruby.