ELK MOUND — With 47 boys and 33 girls turning out for the Elk Mound track and field this year, coach Jeff Mack and his assistant coaches will be spending a lot of time learning names and trying to figure out who to put where when it comes to events at the upcoming meets.
Mack, who may be going for Dan Pedersen’s record for most consecutive years of coaching a sport at the school, begins his 28th year leading the Mounders. The boys’ team, which finished second in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference last year behind St. Croix Central, and won the Division II regional meet in Bloomer, lost long jump state qualifier Marcus Mauer to graduation along with Kyle Holzwarth, Matt Hastreiter, Skyler Hubbard and Matt Bridges, but have seven boys with plenty of varsity experience back. That includes All Conference athletes Mitch Zimmer (3200 relay), Josiah Bauer (shot put), Jordan Klemp (400 and 800 relay), Nate Mack (3200 relay, high jump), Will Miller (400 relay), Dakota Tarnow (pole vault, 110 hurdles), Tyler Deustchlander (400 and 800 relay) and Andrew Zabel (3200 relay). All are seniors except Deustchlander who is a junior.
“Our team strength lies in our senior class and their great leadership,” Mack said. “Our middle distance team is also a strength which is a result from our cross country team.We have some untested underclassmen as well as some new upperclassmen out for the first time. We just need to get the athletes in the correct events. They will be able to learn and grow at the varsity level and hopefully will peak at the right time.”
Mack looks for St. Croix Central, Colfax and Glenwood City to be top contenders in the conference race this year.
“Our boys really want to add to our conference championship banner but I don’t know if we can beat some of the good teams,” he said. “Central has outstanding senior athletes along with a good sophomore class. Colfax is going to be much improved and they have a good combination of both sprinters and distance runners. Glenwood City will figure in the top third and may be able to take a few points away from Central.We would be pleased to finish in the top half of the conference and if my coaches and I can get our athletes in the correct events and coach them up to compete at a higher level we could compete with the top three,” he added.
Other seniors who will be contributing include distance runner Shawn Lane, middle distance runners Jon Adank and Chris Jaenke, sprinter and long and triple jumper Yeng Her, sprinter and shot putter Ryan Bridges and distance runner Hunter Henning.
Juniors include Ben Holzwarth, a state qualifier in cross country last fall, along with Hunter Alexander, Gabe Anderson, Zac Doll, Justin Fedie, Adam Gottschalk, Josh Hall, Samuel Hastreiter, Travis Nelson and Drew Sternecker.
Sophomores are Jake Ausman, Henry Henning, Caleb Kruger, Josh Lien, Dakota Peters, Lucas Winter, Adam Wolgemuth and John Yang.
The freshmen class includes Jonah Bauer, Carlson Bradley, RJ Cheek, Johnny Clark, Elliot Johnson, Lucas Kibblom, Nathan Kruger, Ben Mack, Aaron Maves, Nevin Melgaard, Jake Nandory, Erik Strand and Eric Walling.
The girls’ team revolves around two seniors, a junior and a sophomore. Senior Andie Friberg was a state qualifier in the pole vault the past two seasons and was All Conference in the pole vault and 200 m race last year, senior Emma Hayes leads the long distance runners, junior Alyssa Buros competed at the state level in the shot put as a sophomore and was also All Conference and sophomore Elly Friberg earned All Conference accolades in the long jump and high jump.
“Everyone of these girls has the state meet as their goal,” Mack said. “Most are multi-sport athletes and have excelled in everything they do. Having two of them qualify for state in Division II last season is an accomplishment in itself.”
The Mounders lost some pretty good athletes including Sammy and Nicki Linberg, Bridgett Franz, Alexis Kruger, Kristi Lane, Samantha Mack and Becca Ger via graduation.
“We have a very talented group of freshmen but with no experience at the varsity level, and the sophomores are just now finding their way,” Mack said. “But we have a wonderful group of athletes to work with. They will do anything we ask of them and they really try to get better at it. We have a great core of unselfish individuals that help the other girls, even if those younger girls are taking their place. They are all for making each other and the team better.”
Mack hopes the team can improve on their sixth place conference finish and believes the depth of his team will make them more competitive this year. He expects Plum City/Elmwood, last year’s champ, to be pretty strong again along with Spring Valley and St. Croix Central.
“PC/E seems to have everybody back,” he said. “Spring Valley has a good program and their athletes compete at the highest level, and it’s hard not to include SCC with all the athletes they get to come out,” he added.
Filling out the roster for the Lady Mounders are seniors Anne Kendzierski in the throws, long and triple jumper Josie Hayes and sprinter and long/triple jumper Alex Hagberg.
Juniors are Samantha Jain, Mattie Pitts, Kathleen Simmons, Jamie Solem and Danae Sternecker.
Sophomores competing are Rachel Caron, Kyra Anderson, Kelly Endl, Katie Gerber, Adrianna Harrison, Amy Hoffman and Moriah Mauer.
Freshmen include Kayla Black, Taylor Deling, Emily Finder, Hannah Flatness, Jasmine Johnson, Nevada LaPoint, Katelynn Lyman, McKenna McVey, Abbey Olson, Paxtyn Pavelski, Sarah Winchester and Corrine Zimmer.
Assistant coaches this year are Dan Pedersen in the throwing events and hurdles, Jeremiah Fredrickson in distance and Ken Froelich for the sprint relays.