Prep athletes return to work
WORTHINGTON -- After months of work, training and anticipation, area prep athletes and coaches awoke to the start of a new year. The fall sports season is officially underway. Tennis, cross country, football, soccer and volleyball players around ...
WORTHINGTON -- After months of work, training and anticipation, area prep athletes and coaches awoke to the start of a new year.
The fall sports season is officially underway.
Tennis, cross country, football, soccer and volleyball players around southwest Minnesota trekked their way to their schools Monday for the first practice of the year. It's a chance for friends to get reacquainted with each other, for coaches to get their first crack at installing their plans for the year, and for everyone to get back to some semblance of a regular routine.
Returning to their routine is what Worthington head girls tennis coach Mike Marquardt noted when asked about his personal anticipation for the first practice of the season.
"I really look forward to this. We're human," he said. "We all like our habits and our routines."
Marquardt got his first practice of the year off by having his players take part in challenge matches. Players who, through picking the right playing card, picked a fellow player to compete in a tie-breaker game.
But most of the practice is a transition for the players as the coaches try to get them back into their regular routine, while establishing the mindset for the season.
"The first practice is normally (where) we set the tone for the year," Marquardt said. "If we start off on a wrong key, it's hard to get back in the swing of things."
To that same end, Adrian head cross country coach Doug Petersen has his athletes take a "mild approach" to the start of practice, not wanting to go too hard, too fast.
"We don't rush things," he said. "We have a program and we stick with it. We don't get too excited."
Adrian runners will work at their own pace during the summer -- setting their own time to run and running a set amount of miles per week. With the start of the season, the coaches work on getting the athletes back into the mindset of morning practices, something that was described as an easy transition by Petersen.
The Dragons are looking to build off last year's success as both teams made the state tournament -- the girls winning the first state title in school history. But Petersen said, even with the high level of success in 2005, that it doesn't have an impact on how the team prepares now.
"That was last year. This is this year," he said.
In Fulda, head volleyball coach Jessica Hogan didn't have the luxury of a long wait before the first match of the season. The Raiders open Aug. 25 against Worthington, meaning the coach put her players to the test right away. The results left her very encouraged.
"They were ready to go," Hogan said. "They were excited. They came ready to accomplish something."
Hogan enters the season off last year's first-round sectional loss to Southwest Star Concept, and she sees a team -- even through one practice -- which has taken last year's results to heart.
"They really applied what we worked on last year. We laid a good foundation, a good base for what we wanted to accomplish. It carried over to this year," Hogan said.