The Minnewaska Area boys and girls track and field teams were set to open up the season at the Concordia Invitational, Friday, but that meet was pushed back to Monday, April 3 (today) due to weather.  The Lakers are coming off a great season from a year ago in which the team qualified nine girls and five boys to the state meet in nine separate events.

Minnewaska Area was also set to host the first home invitational, Thursday, April 6, but that meet was postponed to Monday, April 24 due to weather.  Other upcoming meets are the Morris Invitational, set for Tuesday, April 11, and the Litchfield Invitational, Thursday, April 13.

The Lakers are also set to host a home invitational Tuesday, May 2.  The Section True-Team Meet is set for Tuesday, May 9; the WCC Meet at Montevideo is set for Tuesday, May 16; and the Sub-section Meet at Maple Lake is set for Tuesday, May 23.

Coaching the teams this year are head girls’ coach Jennifer Johnsrud, head boys’ coach Zach Traphagen, and assistants Jacey Schlosser, Kayla Sorenson, Linda Mills and Gabe Eisenbacher.  Johnsrud has been coaching at MAHS for 27 years, including her seventh season as head coach of the track team.  This will be Traphagen’s first year at the helm of the boys’ program.

“I have 27 athletes returning with varsity experience,” coach Johnsrud said.  “Our roster consists of 32 athletes in grades 9-12 and 19 in junior high.  We will be led by our senior captains, Elsey Hagen, Kenzie Luetmer and Makena Thoen; two of which competed in the state meet last year and one with state cross-country meet experience.”

The girls team won its sixth-straight WCC title last year with 169.2 points, followed by Benson-KMS (99), Morris Area-CA (93), BOLD-BLHS (86.5), Melrose Area (84.2), West Central Area (75), Montevideo (56) and Sauk Centre (38.2).

In the boys WCC competition last spring, Morris Area-CA won the title with 154 points, followed by Sauk Centre (127), Montevideo (117.5), Minnewaska Area (85), BOLD-BLHS (82), Benson-KMS (78), West Central Area (31) and Melrose Area (23.5).

The girls graduated five seniors, including multi-year state participants Emily Kaiser and Emma Kovarik.  “Those five seniors leave us some pretty big shoes to fill and some large holes to plug as we had two hurdlers, sprinters, a distance runner and high jumpers among the graduating seniors.  In addition, three of those seniors participated and placed in the state meet.  We will have our work cut out for us teaching new kids a variety of events.

“We do have a number of newcomers in the junior high grades, but it is too early to determine their impact.”

A little about last year

Last year, Minnewaska Area qualified nine girls and five boys to the State Track and Field Meet.  Overall, the Laker girls qualified four individuals and three relay teams, while the boys team had one individual and one relay team qualify to state.

McKenzie Luetmer had the high finish at the state meet for the Lakers, placing second in the 400 meter dash, while the 3200 meter relay team of  Lauryn Ankeny, Makenna Thoen, Luetmer and Olivia Danielson placed third.

In addition, Danielson was fifth in the 800 meter run, the girls’ 1600 meter relay team of Ankeny, Thoen, Danielson and Luetmer was fifth, Emily Kaiser was eighth in the 100 meter dash, and the girls’ 400 meter relay team of Alannah Christensen, Mya Lindemann, Emma Kovarik and Kaiser placed eighth.

Also qualifying to state was Maeson Tank in the 800 meter run, Jayda Kolstoe in the discus, and the 400 meter relay team of Jacob Lien, Gage Rogers, Isaac Meyer and DeShon Boyd.

“We sent three girls’ relay teams to state last year and two of those relays have the entire teams returning and the third has two athletes returning, along with the alternate,” coach Johnsrud said.  “We also have individuals back from participating last year in the state 400 and 800 meter runs and discus.

“We hope to make a run this year for the WCC title along with the sub-section and Section 5A title,” coach Johnsrud said.  “And, this would be quite the feat as we are up against the defending state champion team from EVW.”

EVW won last year’s section title as well with 116.5 points, while Minnewaska Area was second with 104 points.  In the boys’ section meet last year, Howard Lake-WW was first with 94.5 points and the Lakers were sixth with 43.5.  “I look for Sauk Centre and Montevideo to also have very tough teams in the conference, while EVW, Paynesville, Sauk Centre have strong programs in our sub-section and St. Cloud Cathedral, Holdingford and Pierz will join them as tough teams at the section meet,” Johnsrud said.