Girls expectations run high
Thanks to Mother Nature, the first Blue Earth Area girls and boys track meet scheduled to be held this Thursday in St. James is probably doubtful.
But, veteran head coach Tom Plocker and his assistants are busy getting their athletes prepared for the season.
“We’re just trying to get them in shape and in the habit of practicing regularly,” he says. “We are doing some unique things, like running hills.”
Helping Plocker this year will be Lenne Holland, Jack Anderson, Brian Kokos and Steven Wood. New to the coaching staff is Laura Jensen.
On paper, the number of returning varsity letterwinners before the start of practice appeared large for the girls squad. There were a total of 24, but seven have decided not to go out this year.
Coming off a successful season the girls team has some high expectations.
Last year they finished second in the South Central Conference Meet and also placed second at the Class A State True Team Meet.
“We certainly have some big holes to fill, but are looking to do that. We have strong numbers out this year and some pretty athletic underclassmen,” Plocker says.
Gone from a year ago are two five-time letterwinners, two four-time winners and one three-year and two-year letterwinner.
The Bucs still have plenty of talent.
They are led by senior standout Krista Hassing, who last year set a school and Section Meet record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:17.84.
The five-year letterwinner also was the anchor leg of the record-setting 4 x 400 relay that placed second at the State Meet with a time of 3:59.6. She also placed second in the 800. Hassing earned All-SCC by winning the gold medal in the 800 and triple jump, and was on the winning relays in the 4 x 400 and 4 x 800.
Three other members of the State 4 x 400 quartet earning a silver medal also are returning.
They are freshmen Karli Olsen, Taylor Grandgenett and Anne Franta, each with two varsity letters.
In the SCC Meet, Olsen made all-conference by winning the gold medal in the long jump and silver in the 400-meter dash. She also part of the 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 winning squads.
At Section, Olsen was third in the 400 and fourth in the long jump.
Franta earned all-conference honors in the 100 and 200 dashes with second-place finishes.
Grandgenett took a bronze medal in the 300-meter low hurdles to make All-SCC and was a member of the 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 first-place teams.
She also took third place in the 300 lows at the Section Meet.
Freshman Shayna Stevermer enters the season with one varsity letter. She was part of the 4 x 400 relay which took first place at the conference meet.
At the Section Meet, Stevermer took fourth place in the 400-meter dash.
Another one-time returning letterwinner who just missed earning All-SCC last year is eighth-grader Skylee Bell. She placed fourth in the 100-meter dash.
Other returning letterwinners include juniors Sierra Halvorson with four; Zoe Thompson, two; and Kassy Juarez and Jennifer Quintero with one each.
Sophomores Kaitlyn Olson and Frannie Tetzlaff have each earned three varsity letters, while Rowan Hacken has one.
For the freshmen class, Paige Darrington and Miranda Johnson are two-time letterwinners. Madalyn Gaydon has one.
Rounding out the letterwinners is eighth-grader Mariah Halvorson with one.
As strong a squad the Buc have, perennial powers Waseca and Fairmont are the early favorites in the conference.
In the Section True Team Meet, BEA will be vying for an eighth straight trip to the State Meet.
Plocker thinks the Buc have an excellent chance to earn another trip to Stillwater.
“It will be tougher this year. I look for United South Central, among the teams, to be a be challenge,” he says.