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Friday, April 20, 2018

OWATONNA HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL a feeling of optimism surrounding the program in the preseason. Noah Budach is one of the top handful of shortstops in the Big Nine Conference and the same can be said about Tucker Alstead at catcher. Abe Havelka will play a critical role for the Huskies as the team’s cleanup hitter, third baseman and top of the rotation pitcher. From the coach: “We have players that can play multiple positions; we have a lot of versatility this year. Our lineup will provide great depth and challenges for opposing pitchers and defenses. We are looking to battle each and every at bat.” Returning talent Brady Schuster: Smooth-fielding third baseman who will also see lots of innings on the mound. The senior had a terrific summer for the Legion team and displayed

Tucker Alstead

2017 recap: It was a rollercoaster month and a half for the Huskies last spring. Owatonna beat Red Wing in the seasonOwatonna baseball opener and brought its record to Head coach: Tate Cummins 5-2 on April 21 with a win against New Prague. From that point for(12th season) ward, OHS endured three losing Last season: 9-13 overall Returning letter-winners: 7 streaks of at least three games, but Key contributors lost: Kodey picked up marquee wins against Kiel, Zach Mensink, Ben Staska eventual Class AAAA state champion Eden Prairie and Section By JON WEISBROD

1-AAA finalist, Northfield, in the season’s final month. The Huskies failed to win a postseason game for the first time in 10 years after getting swept out of the Section 1-4A tournament by Rochester Mayo and Lakeville South in back-to-back games. Season outlook: With a nucleus of seniors leading the way, and all-conference athletes at several key positions, there is

excellent power at the plate. Tucker Alstead: Made the allconference honorable mention and all-area teams last year after throwing out 6 of 15 runners while batting .259 with a superb .408 OBP. The lefty, who will play at NCAA Division II St. Cloud State University next year, will fit nicely at the top of the order. Noah Budach: A major piece of the core group of seniors, the shortstop will bat at the top of the Huskies’ lineup and assume his position at shortstop. Last year he was named all-conference honorable mention and all-area after batting .295 with a .386 OPB. This will be Budach’s third season on the varsity team. Abe Havelka: An indispensable corner infielder who could also end up leading the team in innings-pitched this season. The senior crushed the ball during the

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Legion campaign and is a typical “big game” player. Last spring, he batted .264 with a .403 OPB. He also posted a 3.94 ERA on the mound as a junior. Nolan Malo: Made the allarea team after batting close to .300 last spring. The senior has the ability to play a number of positions but will spend most of his time on the mound and at first base. Parker Westphal: Solid lefthanded bat with good range in the outfield. “Parker has the capability of being a breakout player for us this spring,” Cummins said. Ben Zappa: The junior is making the transition to the outfield and has always been one of the most trusted and talented players in the junior class. He will provide some punch near the bottom of the lineup. See BASEBALL on 3C

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Friday, April 20, 2018




Owatonna softball

Head coach: Brian Pilcher (5th season) Last season: 6-15 overall, 4-9 Big Nine Conference Returning letter-winners: 7 Key contributors lost: Braelyn Johnson (1B), Ellie Rohman (2B), Tiana Blazek. 2017 recap: After losing several key players from the 2016 squad, the Huskies failed to gain much traction last year and lost their final seven contests, including back-to-back shutouts to Farmington and Rochester Century in the Section 1-4A tournament. Season outlook: With no returning first-team all-conference players on the roster, Owatonna will have an uphill climb in the ultra-competitive Big Nine Conference. Liv Larsen and Alexa Sommers aren’t overpowering in the circle, but rarely beat themselves, putting the onus on the

defense to make plays and keep games close. Kenzie Karsten is a strong catcher and will anchor the middle of the order while Jamie Davison will also play a key role on offense and defense. From the coach: “The coaching staff is really impressed with the addition of the new varsity players coming together with the returning players to make a great team atmosphere. This team can accomplish a lot due to the fact they work hard and they are team focused first.” Returning talent Kenzie Karsten: Entering second season as the starting catcher. Last year, she led the Huskies in RBIs and runs-scored. Jamie Davison: Will play third base and slide into the middle of the Huskies’ lineup after batting .305 last season. Liv Larsen: The sophomore will take on an elevated role in the circle after dipping her feet in the varsity water last season. “She has been working hard in the offseason developing all her pitches,” Pilcher said.

Alexa Sommers: Took over as Owatonna’s main pitcher last season and will be asked to spearhead the staff this spring. Newcomers Kaitlyn Madole (3B, SS, P), Patty Biegert (3B, SS), Mia Hiber (OF), Anna Vetsch (2B). By the Numbers 4.9—average runs scored by the Huskies in the first 14 games of 2017 1.4—average runs scored by the Huskies in the final 7 games of 2017 Conference/section favorites Defending state champion Winona lost some key players to graduation, but will remain a Big Nine Conference front-runner along with 2017 break-out team Faribault and traditional powers Mankato West and Mankato East. In Section 1-4A is no easier with Class 4A defending champion Farmington leading the pack. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

Owatonna High School Baseball From Page 2C Dawson Leer: Fundamentally-sound second baseman who has proven to be a great clutch hitter. By the Numbers 46—combined number of hits between Owatonna’s three

returning all-conference honorable mention players (Noah Budach, Tucker Alstead, Abe Havelka) Conference/section favorites Led by one of the best young pitchers in the state (Mac Horvath), Rochester Century will

Kenzie Karsten

be a force in both the Big Nine Conference and Section 1-4A. Always-powerful Lakeville North will also be in the mix for the top seed in the section.

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Friday, April 20, 2018


Owatonna boys track and field

Head coach: Kevin Stelter (20th season) Last season: 4th at Big Nine Conference competition; 3rd in Section 1-AA Returning letter-winners: 20 Key contributors lost: Darik Elstad, Ethan DeKam, Jaden Dowhaniuk, Braydon Kubat 2018 season outlook: Owatonna returns a bundle of talented and versatile athletes at a number of events. The Huskies have always possessed good numbers and are just two years removed from a conference championship. Expect OHS to once again battle for a top three spot in the Big

Nine and possibly send multiple athletes to state. Darik Elstad and Ethan DeKam both graduated and left a big void in both of the throwing events. Jaden Dowhaniuk (sprints, relays) and Braydon Kubat (distance) will also be greatly missed. From the coach: “Developing a quality group of throwers and middle-distance runners will be the key to success this season.” Returning talent (not a comprehensive list) Dalton Kubista: After winning the section title in the triple jump and finishing ninth at the Class AA meet, the senior comes back as a bona-fide state-title contender in the event. His leap of 43-11.75 last season was the second-best in school history. Jason Williamson: The future Minnesota Gophers football

player has been clocked in the 4.6-second range in the 40-yard dash. Alex Raichle: The senior will serve as one of the Huskies’ top sprinters. He has been clocked a under 4.7 seconds in the 40. Andrew Jackson (hurdles): Entering his final season with the Huskies Jackson will step in and compete in both 110 and 300-meter hurdles. Keenon Young (hurdles): The sophomore will have an elevated role in 2018 as one of the most promising underclassman on the team. Andy Jensen (throws): With the Huskies’ top performers in the shot put and discus having graduated, the senior fill an important spot in both events.


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Friday, April 20, 2018




Owatonna girls track and field

Head coach: Ann Christensen (25th season) Last season: 6-0 in conference triangulars; 7th at the conference meet Returning letter-winners: 23 Key contributors lost: Karissa Gregory (sprints/high jump), Caitlyn Anderson (long sprints/ high jump), Mariah Dant (distance), Callie McCauley (triple jump), Lexi Langeland (shot put and discus), Mallory Olson (shot put and discus) 2017 recap: The Huskies performed well during the regular season but scuffled a bit in the Big Nine Conference meet, finishing in the bottom half of the standings in seventh place. Owatonna churned out another state-qualifying relay squad (4x200) and placed Syd Kretlow in the top 10 in the 800-meter run. Season outlook: Owatonna retains a large number of its key contributors from last season and expects to be a major force in the Big Nine Conference. Margo Achterkirch and Syd Schultz are two of the best three-sport female athletes to come through the school in a

number of years and will once again spearhead the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relay squads and contribute in the individual sprints. Sara Anderson is a versatile athlete who will help out in the relays and field events. Syd Kretlow will look to qualify for state in the 800-meter run for the third consecutive season. From the coach: “We have a great bunch of girls, many of which have had success in the past few years of track as well as in other sports. They are a hardworking group that is enthused about doing well. Our biggest strength, as is usually the case for us, is a lot of depth. We also have a great nucleus of returning letterwinners from across the events.” Returning talent Margo Achterkirch (captain, sprints, 4x100 relay, 4x200 relay): Multi-talented senior who will help captain the team and look to make a return trip to state as an individual sprinter and as part of the talented 4x100 and 4x200 relay squads. Syd Schultz (captain, sprints, 4x100 relay, 4x200 relay): Entering her final year with the Huskies, Schultz will be a section-contender in the 100 and 200-meter sprints and help spearhead the state-caliber 4x100 and 4x200 relay squads. Syd Kretlow (400, 800, high jump): The junior will look to make her third straight trip to the

state competition in the 800-meter run while competing in the high jump. She holds the school record in the 800 with a 2:14.84 (2016). Sara Anderson (long sprints, long jump, 4x200 relay): Key part of the young core of athletes for the Huskies who will pitch help out in a number of facets. Josie Sullivan (long sprints, relays) Rilee Wickman (captain, discus, shot put) Ali Golberg (captain, 100-meter sprint, 300-meter hurdles) Nyakhor Godoar (400-meter run) Lydia Weisenburger (pole vault) Heidi Lundberg (pole vault/ hurdles) Emma Maher (long sprints) Maggie Marks (distance runs) Emily Rahrick (400, 800) Emma Zimmerman (triple jump, long jump, hurdles) Kaia Elstad (400, 800) Jessica Gregory (hurdles) Amelia Vande Zande (hurdles, long sprints, long jump) Catrina Herr (distance) Sydney Hunst (long sprints) Sarah Kingland (distance, triple jump) Grace Wolfe (400, 800) Dee Baedke (distance) Janessa Moore (sprints, long jump).







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Friday, April 20, 2018


Owatonna boys golf Head coach: Mark Langlois (2nd season) Last season: 4th at Big Nine Conference meet Returning letter-winners: 5 Key contributors lost: Andrew Wall, John Swenson, Aidan Ebner, Joey Howell, Jesse Swedin. 2017 recap: The Huskies went from last in the Big Nine Conference in 2016 to fourth with essentially the same squad. Season outlook: Owatonna lost its two most consistent golfers from last season in state-

participant Andrew Wall and all-conference performer John Swenson. Despite the obvious void at the top of the rotation left in the wake of graduation, the Huskies retain several dedicated golfers with a great deal of potential. This year’s group might not possess the top-flight talent as 2017’s squad, but will at least have as much depth with a chance for some surprises. From the coach: “Our keys this year is have purposeful practices where we are about quality over quantity. As a collective group we will be worked a lot on putting and other areas of the short game. Players need to

Katie Ihrke

be able to execute their pre-shot routine every time and be willing to sacrifice distance for accuracy. A key piece to the puzzle is analyzing stats and reflecting on each practice and round to know what next steps players need to take to get better.” Returning talent Mac Baumgartner: The senior has been named one of the captains of the 2018 squad. Last season he shot a strong 132 on 27 holes at section meet before rain shortened the event. “Mac has a lot of varsity experience, has improved each year and we expect more out of him this year,” Langlois said.

Matt Steel: Has put in a ton of work in the offseason and will be one of the unquestioned leaders of this year’s group and has been named co-captain. “He has made leaps and bounds since his freshman year and got some varsity experience last year, which will help him this year,” Langlois said. Corey Gander: A solid ballstriker, the senior worked hard in the offseason according to Langlois and participated in the 360 Golf program in Owatonna. Spencer Steckelberg: The senior has logged some varsity time and is gunning for a top five spot. Jonny Wall: The younger brother of Andrew Wall, this

freshman is a dedicated golfer and was part of the varsity rotation during the Big Nine Conference competition last season. Though the youngest member of the projected varsity lineup, Wall could become a major factor this season. Newcomers Joey Brueggemeier (sophomore), Sam Snitker (freshman), Jonathan Hernandez (junior), Joey Smith (freshman), Sam Sampson (freshman), Brody Homan (freshman), Ben Skalicky (junior), Ryan Rohwer (sophomore), Nicolas Meneguzzo. Hernandez and Skalicky each played competitively last sum-

mer while Hoiman and Rohwer were two of the most consistent JV players in 2017. By the Numbers 14—number of golfers in the high school program grades 9-12 Conference/sectional favorites Northfield and Red Wing return some top-end talent in the Big Nine Conference. In Section 1-AA, the Raiders and the Lakeville schools (North and South) project as the preseason front-runners. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW


Owatonna girls golf

Head coach: Tim Hunst (15th season) Last season: Last in the Big Nine Returning letter-winners: 4 2017 recap: As by far the youngest team in the Big Nine Conference, the Huskies struggled to keep pace with most of the teams on their schedule.

Season outlook: Even with four letter-winners returning, Owatonna will be one of the youngest teams in the conference once again as the roster features six underclassmen, five of which are freshman. It’s the second season of what has proven to be a multi-year rebuild project. According to Hunst, the program recruited well at the middle school level in the offseason and now features 11 girls in the Kids First program. From the coach: “We are ex-

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tremely young this year, with one sophomore and five freshmen. As we gain more and more experience, scores will continue to drop. Our willingness to learn and opportunity to do so is our biggest strength.” Returning talent Greta Korbel, Katie Ihrke, Madi Effertz, Leah Seykora. “All four are similar golfers; young, with only a year or so of competitive golf experience. They all steadily improved last year.” Newcomers

Emily Christiansen, Angie Bartz By the Numbers 0—upperclassmen on the Owatonna roster 5—freshman on the Owatonna roster Conference favorites Red Wing and Northfield sit atop the list of preseason favorites in the Big Nine Conference. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW 123 West Broadway Owatonna, MN 507-451-7888

Friday, April 20, 2018




Owatonna boys lacrosse

Head coach: Scott Seykora (16th season) Last season: 10-4 overall, 9-1 Big Nine Returning letter-winners: 21 Key contributors lost: Brett Solie (midfield), Blake Pfieffer (defense), Tyler Wencl (attack), Alex Tryhus (goalie) 2017 recap: The Huskies shared the Big Nine Conference title with Northfield after winning eight of nine league games, but lost to the Raiders in the opening round of the Section 1 tournament. Tyler Wencl led the team with 36 goals. Season outlook: Preseason expectations have never been higher for the Huskies as Owatonna brings back almost every piece of last season’s group that won 11 of its final 12 games and finished second in the Big Nine Conference in scoring average (10.6) and first in fewest goals allowed per-game (6.4). Wencl decided not to play his senior season and his production will be missed. From the coach: “This group of seniors and juniors have been playing together a long time. This

is one of the first groups that started back when they were in third and fourth grade. I feel our team unity will be strong and they work well together as a team.” Returning talent Walker Nelson: Finished third in scoring for the Huskies last season with 23 goals while handing out 13 assists. Earned all-conference at attack. Josh Nelson: Scored 33 goals and dished out 12 assists during his junior season at attack. Nate Smith: Another skilled senior at attack, Smith led the Huskies with 20 assists last season while scoring 17 goals. Landon Thurnau: Scored eight goals and registering seven assists in just four games. Mitch Wiese: Hard-nosed team-leader who will anchor the midfield. The senior earned allconference and all-section second team accolades last season. Noah Brandt: A talented specialist at midfield who set the school record for faceoffs won with 187 last spring. Tyler Johnson: Tallied 18 goals as a junior and earned all-conference honorable mention. Jacob Dub: College-bound defender who will anchor the defense after being named allconference in 2017. Braeden Meier: Missed the

majority of his junior season and is fully healthy and ready to step in an contribute on defense. Kadyn Mulert: Returning starter on defense. Kade Serbus: Returning starter on defense. Dylan Meier: Returning starter on defense. Ryan Johnson (goalie) Brody Veach (goalie) Joe Edel (defense) Ryan Haberman (defense) Tommy Wall (attack) Mason Rhoades (long stick midfield) Newcomers Dominique Wondra (attack) By the Numbers 110—number of goals scored last season from players on the 2018 roster Conference favorites On paper, Owatonna returns more top-end talent than any team in the Big Nine Conference. Northfield, who lost 14 players from last season’s cochampionship team, will be the Huskies’ biggest threat. Farmington, Lakeville South and Lakeville North are the teams to beat in the section.

Evan Steiger (pole vault) Zach Barrett (hurdles) By the Numbers Roosevelt Rios (hurdles) 87—number of athletes listed Brandon Schmidt (sprints) on the preseason roster Scott Kingland (jumps) Conference/section favorites Brett Ruiter (distance) Owatonna and Rochester Bryce Knutson (distance) Century enter the season as the Kolton Kamholz (pole vault) conference favorites while Lakev-

Good Luck to All Area Teams

Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

Owatonna High School Boys Track From Page 4C

Noah Brandt

ille South and Farmington will figure predominantly in Section 1-AA. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

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Owatonna girls lacrosse Head coach: Dan Paur (2nd season) Last season: 10-5 overall, 8-2 Big Nine Conference Returning letter-winners: 16 2017 recap: With first-year coach Dan Paur taking over the program, the Huskies finished alone in second place in the Big Nine Conference, just one game behind champion Mankato. Owatonna led the league in fewest goals allowed at 6.2 per contest. After pulling off a thrilling 2-1 victory over Mankato in the opening round of the section tournament, the Huskies’ season came to an end in the Section 1 semifinals after a 14-6 loss to Farmington on the road. Season outlook: With its entire offensive attack returning, Owatonna will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Nine Conference. The Huskies — who averaged more than 10 goals per game last season — welcome back talented attack Lauren Arthur, who missed most of last season with an injury. The Huskies will need to find adequate replacements for its entire frontline defense and goalie. From the coach: “We return all of our scoring from last season plus a healthy Lauren Arthur and Cassie Bremer. We have a num-

ber of girls that can get hot and Reach sports editor Jon Weisscore, but it’s more about read- brod at 444-2375, or follow him ing the defense and making the on @OPPJonW right play.” Returning talent Taylor Szymanski, Tori Dietz, Maylynn Prokopec, Molly Hawkins, Nicole Skalicky, Leah Tucker, Laura Ebeling, Jade Huseby, Skyler Eaton, Cassie Bremer, Kenna West, Lauren Arthur, Lyric Broton, Taylor Woltman, Sophie Amundson, Jazz Stechmann. “I like our depth on offense, it gives us the ability to be multidimensional and put stress on opposing defenses,” Paur said. Newcomers Paige Boedecker, Breeze Bergland, Maddie Brussel, Carly Christensen (goalie). “We feel confident in Carly and her ability to lead this defense and make big and timely saves,” Paur said. By the Numbers 18-2—Owatonna’s combined Big Nine Conference record since the league reached enough teams to be sponsored by the MSHSL before the 2016 season Conference/second favorites Reigning champion Mankato, Owatonna and Rochester John Marshall are the teams to beat in the Big Nine Conference while Lakeville North, Lakeville South and Farmington will be tough Kenna once again in the Section 1 tournament.


Owatonna High School Girls Track From Page 5C Newcomers Veronica Church (long sprints, throws), Maggie Newhouse (sprints, high jump), Lilly Sampson (sprints, high jump) Lindsay Bangs (sprints, high jump), Cora

Barrett (sprints), Emily Hagen (long sprints), Grace Linders (distance), Morgan Winter (distance), Hannah Munch (pole vault), Eden Ojulu (long sprints), Natalie Morrow (pole vault), Grace Karsten (sprints), Zinash Valen

(long sprints), Megan Johnson (long sprints), Caitlynne Bussert (sprints), Jenna Gleason (sprints, throws), Gabby Esparza (hurdles, distance). “We have picked up a number of girls from sports that have had

success this school year as well as a solid group of ninth graders,” Christensen said. By the Numbers 98— Percent of events that the Huskies return their top three performers from last season.

1-AA. Conference favorites Owatonna, Red Wing, Rochester Century and Mankato West Reach sports editor Jon Weisenter as favorites in the Big Nine brod at 444-2375, or follow him Conference. Lakeville North, on @OPPJonW Lakeville South and Farmington will be a major threat in Section

Friday, April 20, 2018




team-up with DeNio at No. 1 doubles once again in 2018. Lincoln Maher: Was part of a second doubles combination with Dan Keller that finished with a team-best 9-2 record in conference action last season. Ethan Engel: Spent 2017 as a full-time member at No. 3 doubles and built a 15-6 record with a couple different partners. Bredan Kath: Will once again play doubles this season after finishing 12-7 as a freshman last season. Aqil Lahka: Served as the Huskies’ utility player in 2017 and won 10 matches as a junior. Caleb Schuler: Displayed good promise in limited action as a freshman, winning all four of his varsity matches.

Newcomers Zach Noyce, Leo Gantert and Tyler Harris By the Numbers 38—combined number of wins from last season’s top two singles players (Eden Mrozek and Derek Thada). Neither are back for 2018. Conference/section favorites

Rochester Century and Rochester Mayo are ranked within the top 10 in Class AA to start the season and are the clear-cut conference and section frontrunners. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW



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Owatonna boys tennis

Head coach: Curt Matejcek (21st season) Last season: 15-5 overall, 8-3 Big Nine Conference; lost in Section 1-AA semifinals to Rochester Century Returning letter-winners: 8 Key contributors lost: Eden Mrozek, Derek Thada, Dan Keller 2018 season outlook: The preseason will be extra important for the Huskies as they will need to find replacements for their top two singles players in Eden

Mrozek (19-6 record last season) and Derek Thada (19-5) as well as half of its second doubles combination. Owatonna still has a great deal of depth and won’t see a drastic regression — if any at all — from last year’s team that finished fourth in the Big Nine Conference. Cody Bussert and Evan Huemoeller will be two of the top candidates to take over for Mrozek at No. 1 singles. From the coach: “Key for us will be to try to fill the shoes of our departing top singles players. We have some pretty talented players, but the conference is loaded with talent at No. 1 and No. 2, so those spots will be difficult to win at with consistency.

We will need to win a high percentage at the lower singles positions and hope that our depth at doubles can get the team four points.” Returning talent Cody Bussert: The junior, who finished with a 19-5 record last spring, will battle for the top singles spot after spending 2017 at No. 3 singles. Evan Huemoeller: played at No. 4 singles last season and finished 17-7 overall and 8-3 in the Big Nine. Ben DeNio: Was part of a No. 1 doubles combination last season that finished 9-14 overall and 4-7 in the conference. Spencer Intress: Will likely









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Blooming Prairie


Head coach: Matt Kittelson (4th season) Last season: 4-16 overall, 2-10 Gopher Conference Returning letter-winners: 9 Key contributors lost: OF Connor Getchell (5th most atbats, 13 RBI), OF Camden Heimerman (started 16 games) 2017 recap: Though their final record wasn’t pristine, the Awesome Blossoms stayed competitive in almost every game and displayed some decent offensive firepower, scoring four or more runs in 11 games while nearly beating 17-win Mankato Loyola late in the season. Blooming Prairie, which had three players bat over .300 last spring, lost 7-0 to Southland in the opening round of the section tournament. Season outlook: With an entire team worth of letterwinners returning from last season — one of which earned all-state honors — expectations have been elevated in Blooming Prairie. Each of the Blossoms’ top four offensive contributors come back along with essentially the entire pitching staff. Brad Staska is perhaps the best overall player in the Gopher Conference and will anchor the middle of the batting order while serving as the team’s ace on the mound. Seth Peterson and Payton Simon each batted well above .300 last year and will add stability to the infield at shortstop and third base. From the coach: “Our biggest strength will be the amount of varsity experience we return. For


Friday, April 20, 2018

BLOOMING PRAIRIE HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL the first time in a long time we have a roster full of juniors and seniors. A lot of these kids have started on varsity since eighth or ninth grade. In years past we have had nine or 10 players on our varsity roster, but this year we have 15, so depth is also a strength.” Returning talent Brad Staska: The senior finished with a .530 batting average while slugging 12 extra basebhits in 2017, earning him all-conference, all-area, all-section and allstate honors. In 24 innings on the mound, Staska struck out 21 batters and finished with a solid 4.12 ERA, but struggled with his control (21 walks, 12 hit batsman). Seth Peterson: Playing two critical spots on the left side of the infield (SS, 3B), Peterson finished second on the team with a .390 batting average last season while driving in 10 runs. The junior also pitched 22-plus innings and finished with a 2.02 WHIP. Payton Simon: As a fixture at the top of the lineup, Simon produced a breakout sophomore season in which he batted .313 and scored 18 runs. Jack Abbe: The senior was the Awesome Blossoms’ workhorse on the mound, logging a teamhigh 49 innings while finishing with a 3-5 record, a 4.96 ERA and 1.96 WHIP. Newcomers Lucas Noble (outfield). The senior is making his return to the diamond after spending the last two seasons on the BP golf team. He started several games in centerfield as a freshman. By the Numbers .421—Combined batting average of Blooming Prairie’s top three hitters (Brad Staska, Seth Peterson, Payton Simon) last season — all three of which return

Brad Staska

for 2018. Conference favorites W-E-M, Maple River and Medford each have an abundance of returning talent and enter as preseason favorites in the Gopher Conference. In Section 1-A,

Hayfield and Wabasha-Kellogg are the teams to beat according to Kittelson. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW



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Friday, April 20, 2018


Blooming Prairie track and field

Head coach: Chelsea Van Roekel (1st season) Last season: 6th (boys); 7th (girls) Returning letter-winners: 24 (boys and girls) Key contributors lost: Elijah Baker, Leah Schiefert, Leah Inwards, Alison Pryor Season outlook: The Awesome Blossoms return some of the top individuals at their respective events in the entire Gopher Conference and could climb to the top three at the conference meet. Multi-year state participant in cross country, Alec Ille, is a candidate to qualify in both of the distance events while Sam Wurst looks to make it two straight seasons at state in the high jump. The boys and girls will have some strong relay teams as well. As is the case with all Class A teams, depth will be an issue at a few spots. From the coach: “One of our strengths is our depth in the distance and middle distance events. We have a lot of multi-purpose athletes this year that could be successful no matter which events we place them in. Our sprints are looking solid as the year progresses as well.” Returning talent BOYS Alec Ille (1,600, 3,200): “In Alec’s senior season we are looking for big things. Hopefully another school record breaking season and trips to the state track and field meet,” Van Roekel said. Gabe Hagen (4 x 400 relay, shot put, discus): Versatile and strong athlete who will contribute on both the track and field events. “We are very excited about the potential Gabe has as a sophomore in the throws and also the long sprints,” Van Roekel said. Mitchell Fiebiger (4 x 200 relay,

4 x 100 relay, 100, 200, pole vault): Will be one of the most active athletes on the team and contribute in several events. “Mitchell is a great leader for the sprints team and we are looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish in his freshman season,” Van Roekel said. Matthew Pryor(4 x 200 relay, 4 x 100 relay, 4 x 400, long jump). “Matthew has been working very hard in the long sprints and we are hoping for his best season yet in all of his events,” Van Roekel said. Xavier Rennie (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, triple jump). An eighth grader with great potential in the hurdles and sprints. Isaac Ille (4 x 800, 800, high jump, pole vault): Promising longdistance runner and member of the cross country team. Jesse Schewe (4 x 800, 800, 1600) Cameron Kubista (4 x 800, 800, 1600) Adam Larson (4 x 800, 1600) Jack Matson-(shot put, discus) Jacob McHenry (shot put, discus) Zach Weber (4 x 200, 4 x 400, long jump) GIRLS Samantha Wurst (4 x 200, 400, 4 x 400, long jump, high jump): Reigning state-participant in the high jump who will be one of the leaders of the girls team. Ayren Ingvalson (4 x 200 relay, 200, 400): “Ayren is a great senior leader and a key athlete for our girls team this year,” Van Roekel said. Rachael Oswald (100 hurdles, 300 low hurdles, high jump, long jump) “Rachael is our only junior girl and works really hard for us in all of her events,” Van Roekel said. Gemini Johnson (4 x 100 relay, 4 x 200 relay, long jump, triple jump, pole vault): Johnson scored the most points for the girls team last year and is “a key athlete for us in the sprints and field events,” Van Roekel said. Virdiana Villareal (Shot put,

Alec Ille discus): “Virdi is taking on a new role as a leader in the throws for girl’s this year,” Van Roekel said. Jayde Wacek (4 x 100 relay, 4 x 200 relay, sprints) Ashleigh Alwes (4 x 800 relay, 1600, long jump) Abby Braaten (4 x 100, 4 x 200, 100, 200, pole vault) Anna Kittelson (400, 4 x 400

relay, long jump) Megan Oswald (4 x 800, 400, 800, triple jump, long jump) Greta Sunde (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, triple jump) Kiya Thompson (4 x 800 relay, 4 x 400 relay, 400, 800) Taylor Wurst (4 x 800 relay, 800) Newcomers

Alex Baldwin (4 x 100, 4 x 200, 100, 200): “Alex has been a great new asset to our sprint squad. We are really excited to see what he can do,” Van Roekel said. By the Numbers 4:36.61—Alec Ille’s time last season in the 1,600-meter run at the Section 1-A competition finals Conference favorites

Area coaches have pegged NRHEG as the preseason favorite for the boys while Maple River brings back the most talent for the girls. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

Friday, April 20, 2018




Blooming Prairie softball

Head coach: Lonnie Lembke (3rd season) Last season: 15-9 overall, 8-4 Gopher Conference Returning letter-winners: 9 Key contributors lost: Elly Stunk(pitcher/SS), Bria Baldwin (CF), Jasmine Anderson (utility) 2017 recap: Blooming Prairie exploded out of the gates and stood at 12-2 on May 11. The Awesome Blossoms, though, won just one of their final six regular season contests and entered the playoffs on a three-game losing streak. BP briefly turned things around in the section tournament with back-to-back wins before losing to Hayfield and Faribault Bethlehem Academy on consecutive days. Season outlook: With a rocksolid nucleus returning from last season’s team that won 15 games, expectations are high for the Awesome Blossoms. Seniors McKenna Hein, Linnea Sunde and Emma Christianson will offer leadership and experience at a variety of positions as BP looks to find a suitable replacement for

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ace pitcher/shortstop Elly Strunk and five-year starter Bria Baldwin (outfield). The Blossoms will rely on five underclassmen to fill many important roles. From the coach: “This team has so much potential. They may be young but they are hard-workers and are really playing together as a team for this early in the season. Our leadership and workethic has really driven the girls to become better ball players.” Returning talent McKenna Hein: One of three seniors that will be looked upon to lead the young core of players. Hein, who has earned all-conference honorable mention the last two seasons, will help fill the void left from multi-year starter, Elly Strunk, at pitcher while playing a couple positions on the infield. “She is a very strong player and a great team leader. We are looking for big things offensively and defensively this year from her,” Lembke said. Linnea Sunde: The senior has earned all-conference honorable mention consideration the last two seasons and will be looked upon to set the table at the top of the lineup. The centerfielder led the Blossoms in on-base percentage and stolen bases last season. Maya Lembke: Despite being just a sophomore, Lembke has

two years of varsity experience under her belt and will retain her important spot behind the plate at catcher. She is a reigning allconference performer. Emma Christianson: Entering her final season with the Blossoms, Christianson will play one of the corner outfield spots. “Emma’s experience and versatility will be relied on this year,” Lembke said. Julia Worke: The sophomore will offer a steady bat in the middle of the lineup. She play primarily at first base last season but could move around on the infield in 2018. Lila Carlson: As returning letter-winner, Carlson (sophomore) will start at second base and help set the table at the top of the batting order. Riauna Bishop: Will team-up with Hein and offer a great option at pitcher. “[She] saw some action on the mound last year in some big games,” Lembke said. Marti Snider: The sophomore will see expanded playing time this season after playing as a reserve in 2017. She will help fill the shoes of five-year starter Bria Baldwin in the outfield. Allison Krohnberg: After a strong rookie season in 2017, Krohnberg will enter her freshman season as the favorite to start

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McKenna Hein at third base and will provide depth at pitching. Newcomers “We have some younger players on the JV team that will be looked upon to fill out our roster as the season progresses,” Lembke said. By the Numbers 11—number of consecutive

victories strung together by the Awesome Blossoms last season from April 17 to May 11. Conference/section favorites W-E-M and Maple River return lots of experience and will contend for the Gopher Conference championship. Medford returns all but one player form last season and could also emerge as

a surprising threat in the league. Reigning state-participant Hayfield is the unquestioned preseason favorite in Section 1-A. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

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Friday, April 20, 2018


Blooming Prairie golf

Head coach: Carl Peterson (3rd season) Last season: 2nd in Gopher Conference; 1st at section meet (boys); Girls DNQ Returning letter-winners: 5 (boys); 1 (girls) Key contributors lost: Tommy Braaten, Lucas Noble 2017 recap: Senior Tommy Braaten captured the program’s first ever individual state championship in boys golf with an impressive two-day score of 140 on 36 holes. As a team, the boys

won the section title and qualified for state for the second consecutive season. The girls did not have enough golfers to qualify as a team at the conference and section meets but has two allconference performers. Season outlook: The Awesome Blossoms retain a solid core of talent on the boys side and will be led by reigning all-conference performer, Jake Ressler. Without last season’s runaway state champion, Tommy Braaten, and perennial all-conference performer, Lucas Noble, it will be tough for the BP to repeat as section champions, but the Blossoms will be in the hunt. Freshman Jessica Ressler, who earned

all-conference last season, will compete as an individual and is the only player on the girls’ roster this spring. From the coach: “Our returning letter-winners have had some great experiences having participated in the state tournament last year and we hope they can draw from that.” Returning talent BOYS Jake Ressler: The senior has been around for two years on the varsity team and was consistently one of BP’s top three golfers last season. “Jake has the most experience on the team and will likely be our number one player. We will expect good things from Jake

this year,” Peterson said. Colin Jordison: Earned academic all-conference last season as a seventh grader. He will be asked to step into a major role this spring as a top three player. “Colin plays above his age level. He hits the ball a long way for a young player and worked hard on his game over the summer,” Peterson said. Kollyn Alwes: Another piece of the young core, Alwes displayed a great deal of potential during his first year at the varsity level in 2017. According to Peterson, the freshman added at least 20 yards off the tee in the offseason. Austin Behne: The senior was

a solid contributor to the varsity team last year and brings back a lot of experience. “Austin’s scores were pretty consistent throughout the year last year and was on the varsity all year,” Peterson said. Jonathan Herron: Entering his final year with the Blossoms, Herron’s ability to remain consistent at the back end of the lineup will be key. GIRLS Jessica Ressler: Earned allconference last season as an eighth grader. “Jessica has a lot of potential and we look forward to some improvement from her,” Peterson said. By the Numbers

17—number of boys golfers in the Blooming Prairie high school program 1— number of girls golfers in the Blooming Prairie high school program Conference/section favorites Maple River won the Gopher Conference in 2017 and returns most if its team according to Peterson. Section 1-A was a little down last season, but typically boasts a competitive field of teams with Lewiston-Altura and Fillmore Central expected to lead the way in 2018. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW


NRHEG boys and girls track and field

Head coach: Duey Ferber (28th season) Returning letter-winners: 13 boys/14 girls 2017 recap: Last season, the Panthers boys placed second in the Gopher Conference, fourth in the subsection and 19th in the section. The girls took third in the Gopher Conference, sixth in the subsection and 20th in the section. Season outlook: BOYS—The

Panthers have a strong core of upperclassman and have a couple of individual athletes that could threaten for state berths at the section meet. GIRLS—If the young runners can find a groove throughout the season, the Panthers could surprise some teams in the conference and section meets. From the coach: “Our boys team’s strength is depth and leadership. We have some very solid upperclassmen that will pave the way for our team. We are very strong in the throws, jumps, and middle and long distance.” “Developing our depth [on the girls team] will be our greatest challenge, but we have a lot of

young girls that will try to find an event or two to focus on.” Returning talent BOYS Brady Agrimson: The junior was the only point-getter in last year’s section meet where the Panthers finished 19th overall. He turned in the fourth-best time in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.59, finished sixth in the triple jump, 40-07.75, and anchored the seventh-place 4x400 team that ran a 3-minute 45.01-second final. Alex Buckmeier (throws) Ryan Hannegrefs (jumps, sprints) Ben Lewer (distance) Kollin Reese (middle distance) Nathaniel Techau (throws)

Jerret Utpadel (middle distance, jumps) Jacob Schuller (middle distance, jumps) Mason Ferber (hurdles, jumps) Agro Gushwa (middle distance, jumps) Teddy Gushwa (middle distance, pole vault) Daniel Nydeggar (distance) GIRLS Katie Crabtree (throws) Lauren Hermann (throws) Hannah Budach (throws) Madisyn Bueltel (distance) Olivia Christopherson (hurdles, high jump) Caitlin Goette (middle distance)

Darian Pearson (throws) Hailey Westrum (distance) Maggie Maloney (sprints, jumps) Jade Mely (long distance) Elsa Gushwa (sprints, jumps) Natalie Johnson (hurdles) Journey Utpadel (middle distance) Tori Vaale (middle distance) By the Numbers 2—number of returning letterwinners in the senior class of the NRHEG girls 4— number of returning letterwinners in the eighth grade class of the NRHEG girls Conference favorites BOYS: “Maple River is the returning conference champion,

but we will try to give them a run for their money when the conference meet comes around,” Ferber said. “In the subsection, it’s always going to be Fairmont and Blue Earth.” GIRLS: “Like the boys, Maple River is always going to be tough in the conference, but Waterville-Elysian-Morristown should also be right there with them. I wouldn’t count out USC-AldenConger either, as they also have a nice group of young girls who are ready to compete.” Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

Friday, April 20, 2018




NRHEG baseball

Head coach: Drew Paukert (4th season) Last season: 6-14 overall, 4-8 Gopher Conference Returning letter-winners: 7 Key contributors lost: Jack Schultz (pitcher), Jason Jongbloedt (infield), Sam Prigge (catcher) 2017 recap: After winning three consecutive games to move to 5-7 on May 2, the Panthers won just one of their final eight contests and were eliminated in the opening round of the section tournament after a 5-0 loss to LeSueur-Henderson. 2 0 1 8 s e a s on out l o o k : NRHEG lost one of its top pitchers (Jack Schultz) and allconference catcher (Sam Prigge) to graduation, but bring back enough talent to stay competitive in the Gopher Conference. The Panthers will lean on twoyear starter and reigning allarea honorable mention player, Cole Staloch, along with fellow infielder Jake Tasker. Staloch, a natural shortstop, was battling a shoulder injury in the preseason and might be used at exclusively at designated hitter or first base until he’s fully healthy. From the coach: “Overall, we hope to be playing our best baseball come May. With the injuries to some critical pieces we had hoped to fill some innings on the mound, we know our pitching staff will be a work in progress behind Tasker. We have a number of kids coming back and we’re going to ask them to step into some different roles this season to help us reach our goals.” Returning talent Cole Staloch: Entering his fourth season on varsity, Staloch batted a team-best .344 last season to go with five doubles and eight RBIs. Hampered by a shoulder injury in early April,

Cole Staloch

the senior will vacate his starting spot at shortstop until he is fully healthy. “Cole is a very talented and smart baseball player,” Paukert said. “His versatility will allow us to put him at a place where he will be able to stay healthy and contribute.”

Jake Tasker: The junior, who batted .332 last season and drove in 11 runs, will anchor the pitching staff and play on the infield. “He’s the type of kid that would be playing 365 days a year if he had the opportunity,” Paukert said. Cole Thompson (outfield) Braden Routh (outfield)

Evan Dobberstein (infield) Sawyer VanMaldegham (infield) Lucas Bailey (outfield) Newcomers Jack Hogstad (infield), Devin Buendorf (outfield), Mason Oakland (outfield), Graham Kyllo (infield), Jake Stork (infield), Spen-

cer Tufte (infield), Payton Misgen (outfield) By the Numbers 0—returning all-conference players Conference/section favorites W-E-M, Maple River and Medford will likely battle for the top three spots in the Gopher

Conference while St. Peter and

Belle Plaine will enter the season as Section 2-AA favorites. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW



Friday, April 20, 2018


NRHEG softball

Head coach: Wendy Schultz (20th season; 1993-2004, 20102014, 2016-present) Last season: 8-13 overall, 5-7 Gopher Conference Returning letter-winners: 6 Key contributors lost: Rachel Collins, Grace Johns, Kayley Camerer, Natalie Aaseth, Skylar Lembke 2017 recap: After starting the season 0-6, the Panthers gained traction in the middle of the season and finished 8-7 of their final 15 games, losing 4-1 to TCU in the opening round of the Section 2-AA tournament. Season outlook: With several new faces expected to play key positions, the Panthers don’t enter the season as one of the favorites in the Gopher Conference, but have enough talent to remain competitive with just about every team on its schedule. Gabby Muri is one of the top returning players in the Gopher Conference and will play catcher and infield. From the coach: “We will be a very young team, losing five starters from last year. Some of our starters from last year may be in different positions. We hope to just get better and improve throughout the season and let the girls have some fun.” Returning talent Gabby Muri: senior (IF,C): Muri was third on the team last year with a .429 batting average and will be the only returning player to be above the .400 mark from last year. “Gabby’s experience will hopefully help the younger players acclimate to their new roles and help them improve throughout the season,” said Schultz. Alexis Anderson (OF): The junior is a machine on the base paths, having stolen 32 bases on 32 attempts last season. With a

Alexis Anderson

batting average last year of .432, good enough for second on the team, and on-base percentage of .523, her speed allowed her to score a team-high 27 runs for the Panthers. “Hopefully Alexis comes up with some big and timely hits for us this year, as she has a very strong bat,” Schultz said. Paige Knudson (3B): Knudson is the only returning all-con-

ference award winner from last season, in which she batted .375 and handled the hot corner like a seasoned veteran, making only 5 errors. “One of Paige’s strengths is her eye at the plate,” said Schultz. “She was the only player last year to have more walks than strikeouts (7 BB to just 4 K).” Sarah Johns (OF, P): The freshman batted .283 as an eighth-

grader last season and enters her third year as a varsity player. Coach Schultz will look to develop Sarah into a pitcher this year, as they lost their inning-eater in Natalie Aaseth (128.2 of the 138 innings) to graduation last spring. “Sarah is only a freshman, but will be looked to for leadership as one of the veterans of the team,” said Schultz. “Her experience can only

help her fellow underclassmen develop as the season progresses.” By the Numbers 5—number of players on the 10-person team that are freshman or younger Newcomers Makenzi Rhoades, Kylie Arndt Conference favorites “If history holds true, expectations are that Bethlehem Acad-

emy, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown and Blooming Prairie will be conference favorites and LeSueurHenderson and Jordan to again be the favorites in the section this year,” Schultz said. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

Friday, April 20, 2018




Medford baseball Head coach: Jon Chappuis (7th season) Last season: 7-15 overall, 2-8 Gopher Conference Returning letter-winners: 11 Key contributors lost: Jon O’Daffer, Ben Borash 2017 recap: The Tigers lost a slew of close games in the regular season and didn’t finish with a great conference record, but made some noise in the Section 2-AA tournament, winning two of their first three games before being eliminated by LeSueur-Henderson, 5-4. 2018 season outlook: With almost all of last year’s squad returning for 2018, Medford could emerge as a dark horse contender for the Gopher Conference championship. Javis and Willie VonRuden are two of the best players in Steele County and create an excellent battery at catcher and ace pitcher, respectively. From the coach: “Experience is this team’s biggest strength. But more important than their experience is that this team is focused. They came in with a chip on their shoulder starting last year in sections and have carried that over through the off-season into the start of this season.” Returning talent Javis VonRuden: The reigning People’s Press co-Player of the Year will enter his fourth season on the varsity team and will serve as the Medford’s starting catcher and unquestioned leader once again. He batted .436 last season and drove in 13 runs. Willie VonRuden: One of the most promising young arms in the Gopher Conference, the hardthrowing lefty will spearhead the pitching rotation and settle into the middle of the batting order. He finished with a 4-3 record on the mound with a 1.69 ERA and 90 strikeouts. On offense, he drove in 14 runs and finished with a .364 batting average.

Javis VonRuden

Alex Gengler: Touted as one of the best defensive first basemen in the conference by Chappuis, Gengler will jump back to his spot in the starting lineup and will be a part of the pitching staff once again. Ian Gillis: The senior has been starting since his freshman season and will anchor the infield at shortstop. In 2017, he set the table for the middle of the lineup nicely by getting on base 44 percent of his at-bats while scoring 19 runs.

Cole Volkmann: The athletic senior will start at second base and will see innings on the mound both as a starter and out of the bullpen. “He keeps the team loose,” Chappuis said. Nate Meixner: Another fouryear starter that is versatile enough to play a multitude of positions, including pitcher. Cael Kavitz: A lead-by-example senior who will occupy one of the corner outfield spots.

Ben Sutcliffe: Corner outfielder who Chappuis said has “good handeye coordination and has played multiple roles over past couple seasons.” Newcomers Brody Berg (senior), Jordan Edel (sophomore), AJ Vandereide (freshman), Boden Devoe (sophomore). Berg is making his return to baseball after being away from the game for awhile, and according to

Chappuis, “has made an immediate impact with his work ethic.” Edel has great speed and will provide depth in the outfield while Vandereide and Devoe could log innings on the mound in the condensed season. By the Numbers 9—Games lost by the Tigers by 3 or fewer runs last season. 8—Number of seniors on Medford’s roster in 2018, a massive amount for a small Class AA

school. Conference/section favorites W-E-M, Maple River and Medford will likely battle for the top three spots in the Gopher Conference while St. Peter and Belle Plaine will enter the season as Section 2-AA favorites. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW



Friday, April 20, 2018F


Medford softball

Head coach: Alyssa Strunk Last season: 7-12 overall, 2-10 Gopher Conference Returning letter-winners: 11 Key contributors lost: Kori Dodge 2017 recap: The Tigers started the season 5-2 but finished by winning just two of their final 12 games. Medford fell, 9-0, to Maple River in the Section 2-AA opening round. Season outlook: Even with the loss of reigning OPP Player of the Year, Kori Dodge (.651 batting average, 5 home runs in 2017), Medford will almost certainly be in position to take a major step forward as the team returns five players that batted well over .300 last season. The Tigers’ core is still young, but most already have multiple years of varsity experience. Medford should be able to keep up with every team in the conference on offense, but will need its pitching and defense to improve to challenge for a conference title. From the coach: “Most of these girls have been on varsity since they were in eighth grade and they know what to expect and they have the experience and skills to compete with any team. We have some good leaders on this team who can hopefully help inspire this young team.” Returning talent Izzy Reuvers: Batted .468 last season and will retain her spot as the anchor of the infield at shortstop. “Izzy is a strong shortstop and leader for our team. She will also be seeing some innings in the circle,” said Strunk. Emma Kniefel: Finished with a .468 batting average and will make the move to catcher this season and take over for perennial all-conference backstop Kori Dodge. She is a superb multi-

Mackenzie Paulson sport athlete and will be the centerpiece of the offense. Mac Paulson: Will eat up valuable innings in the circle and help anchor the bottom of the lineup. She batted .289 last season. Kiley Nihart: Will slide into her familiar spot at second base and look to build on a strong 2017 season in which she batted .339. Journey Anders: Batted .333 last season and will make the

move to centerfield. Madison Klein: After posting a .382 batting average, Klein will play first base for the Tigers. Jordyn Stadler: Will play third base. Lilly Roehrick: Could play multiple spots in the outfield. Batted .295 last season. Newcomers Halli Zumbrunnen, Emily Chadwick and Kylie Cumberland. “All three were on varsity last year and we will look to them

to share some innings and at bats Reach sports editor Jon him on @OPPJonW this year. They have some experi- Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow ence under their belt so we have high expectations they will be able to step up,” Strunk said. By the Numbers 9—Number of underclassmen expected to see significant playing time for the Tigers. “MOVING KIDS FORWARD” Gopher Conference favorites Medford, Faribault Bethlehem Academy, Blooming Prairie


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Medford track and field

Head coach: Kevin Werk (15th season) Last season: 4th at conference meet (boys); 6th and conference meet (girls) Returning letter-winners: 10 (boys); 7 (girls) Key contributors lost: BOYS— Josh Schauer, Marcus DeLeon, Tye Devoe; GIRLS— Amber Sobrack, Ashlely Gilbertson, Callie Nagel & Mikayla Spinler Season outlook: Both the boys and girls team return a lot of experience, so expect the Tigers to maintain their position in the Gopher Conference. Luke Johnston is the most decorated returning athlete as a two-event state champion in shot put and discus for the wheelchair division. The girls lost their top three throwers from last season, so

finding replacements in the discus and shot put will be important for the team’s overall success. From the coach: “We have a lot of experience returning for both boys and girls. Finding more consistent points in the distance races for the boys will be key to our success.” Returning talent BOYS Luke Johnston: Won two state championships last season at the shot put and discus wheelchair division. Greg Larson (sprints) Brett Johnson (pole vault, distance) Devan List (sprints, long jump) Jacob Gasner (throws) Noah Pirkl (long jump, triple jump, sprints) Ryan Hermanstorfer (long jump, triple jump, sprints) Tanner Barbeau (sprints) Jerone Chavis (long jump, sprints) Garret Fitzgerald (distance)

GIRLS Jenna McCarthy (pole vault, hurdles) Bailey Purrier (sprints, triple jump) Rachael Luebbe (sprints, high jump) Bella Steffen (distance, long jump) Brooke Purrier (sprints) Clara Kniefel (distance) Mackenzie Kellen (pole vault, triple jump, hurdles) By the Numbers 30—number of girls on the preseason roster in grades 7-12. 40—number of boys on the preseason roster in grades 7-12. Conference favorites In the Gopher Conference, Maple River and NRHEG return a lot of talent while PlainviewElgin-Millville and Byron will be the teams to beat in the section. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW


NRHEG boys and girls golf

Head coach: Brad Root (8th season) Returning letter-winners: 8 (boys and girls) Key contributors lost: Oakley Baker, Jacob Leibeg, Noah Sletten, Jill Jonggbloedt, Kallie Spooner Season outlook: The boys retain a decent amount of talent and could challenge for a top three spot in the conference while the girls have just three players on the roster. From the coach: “I expect both teams to compete for a

conference title, but mainly I just want them to become better golfers as they move through the season. As always, we want our student athletes to enjoy the sport and have fun, while at the same time representing our school and communities well. In order to best enjoy the game, a good grasp of the rules of golf is necessary. We will have a big focus on etiquette so our golfers will be knowledgeable and welcome wherever we travel to play.” Returning talent BOYS Ross Lenort, Aaron Olson, Atom Oquest, Brett Kubiatowicz, Jacob Blatti, Tory Christensen. “Our varsity will go as Lenort, Olson and Christensen go,” Root said. “I’m expecting one or two of those guys to be all-conference

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GIRLS The team will consist of Kyra Possin (senior), Grace Cumming (junior), Sydney Koziolek (sophomore). “These girls have great chemistry,” Root said. “They work hard and are mentally prepared. Their positive attitude in poor weather and aggressiveness make them a lot of fun to watch on the course.” Conference/section favorites United South Central and Blooming Prairie will be the teams to beat in the Gopher Conference for the boys while Waseca is the preseason front-runner for Section 2-AA. Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

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Spring Sports 2018  
Spring Sports 2018