Speaking of Sports

By John Fragodt, Sports Reporter

I’m still getting to know the student-athletes at Minnewaska Area, but I’ve gotten to know them well enough to know that Laker sports should be very strong for years to come.  I was thinking about the great young talent on the girls tennis team this year, but then I got to thinking about the youth in the other sports as well.  Wow!

The girls tennis team has a top-12 lineup that includes three seniors, one junior, five sophomores and three ninth-graders.  A sophomore (Megan Thorfinnson) and ninth-grader (Alia Randt) are playing in the top two singles’ spots and a senior (Olivia Bleick) and sophomore (Sydney Dahl) are mostly playing at first doubles.  Despite the young team, the Lakers won another WCC title this season with a perfect conference record.

•  In volleyball, the Lakers have mostly played with a top-8 that includes six juniors, one sophomore and one eighth-grader so all eight regulars will return next season.  

•  The swimming team has super numbers this year with a combined 50-plus swimmers from Morris Area and Minnewaska Area Schools.

Only one senior is from Morris while seven key seniors are from Minnewaska Area, but there are younger athletes who have done very well already this year, including freshman diver Clare Barnstuble, Minnewaska Area sophomores Becca Femrite and Melena Longtin, and ninth-graders Mesa Kittelson and Lyla Stadtherr, among others.

•  In cross-country, the girls’ varsity team has mostly included four seniors, two juniors, one sophomore and three-ninth-graders, including ninth-grader Lauryn Ankeny, who has placed first, second, third, fifth and sixth at the first five meets.  In addition, Lauryn’s sister, seventh-grader Sydney Ankeny, just made her varsity debut this past week.

The top-nine for the boys cross-country team meanwhile, includes three seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and one ninth-grader.  Leading the way for the team is junior Maeson Tank, who has placed first, second, third, fourth and sixth, individually, at the first five meets.

•  The other Minnewaska Area boys’ teams aren’t quite as young, but the soccer team has 10 seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and a ninth-grader.  The goalie (Tenzin Dahl) is a sophomore, while a couple of the leading scorers (Jose Contreras Mondragon and Blake Nelson) are juniors.

•  And, although the Minnewaska football team has a good group of nine seniors, the 13 juniors and 16 sophomores are stepping up to provide great minutes for the team and should be strong in the years to come, especially when you add in a strong group of 20 freshmen playing on the JV team.

Yes, the Laker sports programs should be strong for years to come and it’s always nice to see the younger athletes add to the talent of the older students to help each of the teams enjoy success.

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Still hard for me to accept . . .

It’s been over a week, but I’m still having a tough time adjusting to the fact that Roger Federer has retired from professional tennis.  He played his final professional match during the Laver Cup a few weekends ago.  It was fitting that Federer played his final match in doubles’ with partner Rafael Nadal.

Nadal and Federer are two of the greatest competitors ever, but they have also become great friends and I love seeing them laughing and having a good time together.  Following his last match, Federer shook hands with everyone, gave Nadal a hug and then hugged his Laver Cup world captain Bjorn Borg, who is my other favorite tennis player of all time.  It’s a picture I’ll keep in mind as long as I can.

Yes, I was hoping Federer would play in at least one more Wimbledon, but I was wrong.  Thanks to him for giving me some fantastic memories and great entertainment during a very special time in my life with my kids.