Girls track and field: Luverne looks to continue tradition
LUVERNE -- As is the case with all high school teams, the Luverne girls track team has some holes to fill after losing contributors to graduation, but new head coach Pete Janiszeski thinks his team's returning talent will make it a "solid team again.
LUVERNE -- As is the case with all high school teams, the Luverne girls track team has some holes to fill after losing contributors to graduation, but new head coach Pete Janiszeski thinks his team’s returning talent will make it a “solid team again.”
“We lost a couple of senior contributors from last year,” he said. “But we do have quite a crew of kids coming back and some new faces added to the mix. We always have that goal of putting together the best team we can.”
Gone from last year’s Cardinals squad is thrower Morgan Edwards, who finished eighth in the shot put in 2016 -- her third consecutive state meet appearance. But the Cardinals have sophomore Kami Sawtelle returning, after narrowly missing out on the state meet as a freshman, as she finished third in the shot put and discuss at sectionals.
“Kami Sawtelle is back in the throws,” Janiszeski said. “And we have some younger throwers that will hopefully develop and get better as the season goes on.”
Back this year are all four members of the 4x800 relay team that placed fourth at the Minnesota state meet last year with a time of 9:41.31. The group should continue to be strong even after this year, as only Madi Schandelmeier is a senior. Gabrielle Ferrell and Jadyn Anderson are sophomores, while Autumn Nath is an eighth grader.
Schandelmeier will look to build on a tremendous individual finish last year in the 3,200, which she ran in 11:20.18, good for fifth place. Likewise, her 4x800 relay teammate Anderson hopes to return to the state meet after qualifying in 2016.
The Cardinals middle-distance looks to be in good shape with Megan Feit returning, and a number of top performers return in the sprints.
“We have some good sprinters returning with Sierra Schmuck and Mckenzie Peterson,” Janiszeski said. “And we’ve got our younger crew coming up. Janet Offenberg is a good senior.”
Freshman Courtney Siebenahler returns after qualifying for state in the triple jump as an eighth grader.
Perhaps no loss from the 2016 Cardinals will be felt more than the loss of coach Craig Nelson, who retired after what many say is a Hall of Fame career.
“Craig built a great tradition and it has been a lot of fun to be a part of that,” Janiszeski said, “And I’m just hoping that I can fill his shoes in some way shape or form, and keep the tradition strong here in Luverne.”
Pipestone Area seems in store for a youth movement as they look to fill some holes left by graduation. The Arrows’ 4x200 relay team finished fourth at the state meet last year, running 1:45.31, but lost Claire Femrite and Maria Spanier to graduation. Returning from that relay team are sophomores MacKenzie Haraldson and Michelle Neece.
“We’re hoping to fill in those holes, Zoe (Velde) is a good fill in,” said Arrows acting coach Erin Gordon, who is filling the role while head coach Todd Tinklenberg recovers from an injury. “Hopefully one of those young girls can step up into that spot. We have three and need a fourth in all of our relays.”
One youngster to watch for in the sprints, Gordon said, is eighth-grader America Diaz who returns to the team after competing as a seventh grader.
“She runs the 100, 200 and 400 and has potential all across the board,” the coach said. “She filled in for us in spots last year.”
Meanwhile, the distance squad continues un-phased this year.
“The distance team is looking very sharp,” Gordon said. “We’re returning everybody, most of the team. Olivia Wallace and Angel Martins had great cross country seasons this year and Joey Strosser made sections in the 800 last year.”
After a strong cross country season that saw her qualify for the state meet, eighth grader Morgan Gehl returns to the Fulda track team. Last year, she set a new Class A record for the 3,200 at the Trojan Relays, finishing in 11:58.21.