It will be a challenging, yet promising season for the Menomonie girls’ track and field team.
The Mustangs return this year having lost a strong batch of graduated seniors from last season’s roster — including Ellen and Hannah Peterson who were an integral part of the relay teams — and will look to returning letterwinners to help grow a fresh crop of freshman and sophomores in an effort to add to the depth they will need to compete in a loaded Big Rivers Conference (BRC).
“We have some really strong girls returning, but will need some other girls to step up in almost all events,” head coach Matthew Flug said.
Flug returns for his ninth year as head coach — specializing in sprint events — and has 21 year’s experience with the program overall. He is accompanied by coaches Craig Olson (boys head coach/middle distance), Adam Topper (long distance), Angie Wilson (horizontal jumps), Dwight McNaughton (throws), Steve Jennings (pole vault), Andrea Gores (hurdles), Gregg Anderson (high jump) and John Christensen (horizontal jumps, sprints and hurdles).
Letterwinners and key athletes returning to the roster this year include seniors Madison Davis, Elle Hemauer, Tyra Boettcher, Grace Bilse and Annie Behrend, juniors Kaylynn Imsande, Kylie Mogen and Destiny Haldeman, and sophomores MacKenzie Flug, Teagan Bignell, McKinley Davis and Payton Wilkerson-Hardy.
Davis was an All-BRC second team selection in both the 200m and 800m relays and a first team pick in the 400m relay. She is a two-time state qualifier (as a sophomore and junior) and helped break the school record in the 400m relay. She was awarded team Track MVP last season. Davis, along with Hemauer are poised as leaders for the sprinting group this season.
Hemauer was also an All-BRC second team selection of the 800m relay and a first team pick of the 400m relay team. She was also part of the team that helped break the school record in the 400m relay. In addition to a key athlete in sprint events this year, she will also be competing in the long jump.
Boettcher returns as an All-BRC honorable mention pick in the long jump and a second team selection as a member of the 3,200m relay. She is also strong in the triple jump, having earned a trip to state in the event last season. This year, she plans on focusing more on jumping and sprinting and is looked to as a key leader in both events.
Bilse, Behrend and Imsande are all strong middle and long-distance athletes and all are expected to help grow an incoming group of young runners.
Mogen, one of the Mustang’s more versatile athletes, returns after coming off a trip to state in the high jump last season. She can be seen competing in the high jump, hurdles, triple jump and the 400m dash.
Fronting throwing events is sophomore Haldeman, who Flug sees having a fantastic season this year as the key leader for both shotput and discus. In addition, Haldeman will also compete in hurdles.
Bignell came onto the scene as a freshman last season where she made it to sectionals in discus.
“She really came on at the end of the season as she figured things out,” Flug said of Bignell. “She’s really hungry to take it to the next level this season.”
These athletes helped bring the Menomonie team to a top half finish in all regular season meets of the 2017 season, including second place at the River Falls Indoor Invite and New Richmond Relays and victories at the Dunn County Invite, Northern Badger Invite, New Richmond Open and the Mondovi Invite. The Mustangs finished fourth in the BRC and two individuals and one relay team qualified for state.
Rookies to watch
Incoming freshmen Olivia Peterson — younger sister of Ellen and Hannah — is already showing speed and leaping ability in the early days of practice. Classmates Chloe Oehler and Mckenzie Carlson are two new athletes who have the potential to add depth in several events while sophomores Syanna Urriola and Skylr Rappley are also already showing promise as strong competitors.
Sophomore Jordan Selchow comes in as a cross-country runner and looks to provide some much-needed depth in the middle and long-distance races and senior Lucie Sarsa, an exchange student from France, has impressed Flug with her speed.
“We’ve only had a couple days of practice, so I’m still trying to get a feel for a lot of these girls,” Flug noted. “So far, though, I have really liked the work ethic and willingness ... to try events.”
Flug said the Mustangs’ biggest goal this year is to develop their new athletes and push them to be involved in multiple events, which will help increase their depth.
“If we do that, we will at least be competitive in the conference meet and should be able to gain all-conference awards while getting some girls to state again,” he noted. “Our returning letter winners all have that potential and hopefully there are some nice surprises along the way.”
Menomonie opens their season up at home on Thursday, March 22, hosting an invitational between Boyceville, Ellsworth and Rice Lake.
Seniors: Annie Behrend, Grace Bilse, Tyra Boettcher, Madison Davis, Inga Erickson, Elle Hemauer, Clara Kaufmann, Delaney Bignell, Megan Danzeisen and Lucie Sarsa.
Juniors: Aura Eisold, Destiny Haldeman, Kaylynn Imsande, Kaitlyn Ingram, Glacier Johnson, Kylie Mogen, Ally Neidermyer, Kaitlyn Olschlager and Caitlin Poeschel
Sophomores: Holly Behrend, Teagan Bignell, Taylor Bistodeau, Dyllen Brewer, Mckinley Davis, MacKenzie Flug, Payten Hardy, Victoria Harmston, Rhianna Hinrichs, Janessa Hoveland, Kalista Hoyt, Alyssa Kruper, Briella Kuester, Johanna Larson, Monica Link, Emily Morris, Skylyr Rappley, Jordan Selchow, Natalie Stewart, Brianna Thompson, Syanna Urriola and Eirka Villeneuve
Freshmen: Helayna Brown, Mckenzie Carlson, Mackenzie Haggerty, Evelyn Johns, Alison Johnson, Chloe Oehler, Olivia Peterson, Emma Rood and Amelia Zach