By Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND — The Mounder track team ended the Jeff Mack coaching era on a high note in 2016 when it hauled home not only 18 all-conference honors for girls and 25 for boys, but brought home both conference championship trophies too.
Rookie head coach Jeremiah Fredrickson said last season was a good one for the team. Not only did the Mounders capture both Dunn-St. Croix track and field trophies, the boys earned fourth at regionals, and the girls’ team took fifth.
Elk Mound said good bye to nine talented seniors at last year’s graduation ceremony. Jonah Bauer, Ben Mack, Jordan VanSchoonhoven, Chase Morris, Paxtyn Pavelski and McKenna McVey were talented sprinters, while Aaron Maves and Taylor Deling left behind their throwing duties for their younger teammates. Nathan Krueger and Hayden Kohls provided anchors for the boys’ distance runners.
“They will all be missed, but they all helped lay the ground work for this year’s team,” Fredrickson said.
Bauer earned second-team honors as a long-jumper, Mack picked up a second-team award for the 800-meter relay, VanSchoonhoven made first-team all-conference for his 400-meter relay team and joined Mack on the 800-meter team. Morris earned second as part of the 1600-meter relay.
Pavelski earned second-team all-conference for her part on the girls’ 400-meter relay, and McVey took second in the 200-meter dash and was part of the first-place 800-meter relay. Deling placed third in shot put, and Maves took second in both shot and discus. Kohls took third in the 3200-meter relay, and Krueger contributed his distance-running talents in a variety of ways in 2016.
The Mounders will see the return of 14 seniors, ten of whom earned varsity letters in previous seasons. Kaitlyn Baier returns as a senior after winning the 800-meter relay as a junior and taking second in the 400-meter. Meredith Hainstock returns this season as a hurdler after lettering as a junior.
Jenna Heit, Mikalya Solberg and Sarah Sweeney are also back as three-time letter winners. Heit will be running distance races, Solberg will throw the discus, and Sweeney will cover middle distances and jumps.
Maria Heltne and Kassie Jain are back to contribute as seniors in sprints and throwing.
Junior hurdler Hannah Cedarblade joins the team again this year after having lettered as a freshman. Her classmates Maddie Jenson and Callie Nygren are back as sprinters after winning varsity letters two years ago. Middle distance runner Claudia Paul lettered as a sophomore and is back on the 2017 team.
Hanna Carlson, Kyla Egan, Mattea Linberg, Kayla Patterson, Sira Shepard, Gabby Wilson, Emily Winchester, Anna Wolgemuth and Kourtney Zurbuchen are some of the other junior girls who are hoping to pick up some points for the Mounders this season.
Victoria Fasbender (distance), Hanna Hollister (middle-distance and high jump), Ciera Lind (distance), Brynn McVey (sprints), Alana and Brook Plaszcz (distance), Amanda Sahm (sprints) and Syd Simpson (sprints) all are back after winning varsity letters. The sophomore tribe of female letter winners will be joined by Abby Kasper (throws), Paige Romanowski (distance) and Hannah Simpson (throws).
Fredrickson’s girls’ team is rounded out by freshmen Melanie Balts, Maggie Bartig, Kortnee Halgren, Lizzy Lindquist, Kristin Martinson, Laney Moyer, Nikki Munthe, Lexi Nechanicky, Taya Schaefer, Reese Southwort and Paige VanSchoonhoven.
Middle-distance runner and pole vaulter George Friberg is joined by his senior classmates Hunter Johnson, Tyler Sahm, Chandler Schreiber and Noah Zurbuchen as letter winners back for their final high school season. Johnson, Friberg and Schreiber will provide leadership in middle-distance races, and Friberg and Schrieber will again hold down the fort at pole vault.
Sahm and Zurbuchen will provide some speed leadership on the track as sprinters. Rylan Maves and Nic Gilpin are hoping to make a deep impact as throwers.
Juniors Andrew Benson (middle-distance, throws), Tyler Brantner (sprinter, jumps), Aric Jensen (throws, middle-distance), Jake Johnson (hurdles), Bryce Kasper (throws) Nate Lind (distance) and Conner Mavis (throws) earned varsity letters and are back this season to continue their work. They are joined by classmates Ryan Mohr at middle-distance, William Muzynski as a sprinter and Jared Strand at high jump.
Rian Flynn, a sprinter, and Marquis Kasakaitas, a middle-distance runner and thrower, were the only two sophomore to earn varsity letters in 2016. Their classmates Mason Close, Jack Emberson, Dylan Hanson, Brady Redwine, Carter Scholze and Isaiah Wald are all hoping to contribute some needed points to the team.
Freshmen Kyle Deling, Derek Falkner, Dominic Hall, Seth Hazen, Jacob Miller, Andrew Pathos and Gaelen Young join Cade Hanson on the team. Hanson already has some varsity running experience after competing at the state cross country meet this past October.
The Mounders sent 14 girls and ten boys to sectionals in 2016, but were only able to qualify one girl and a handful of boys for the state meet.
The team will miss Elizabeth Fasbender this year, as she has opted to work more to pay for school and other expenses. She was the sole girl to make it to state in 2016, finishing her 3200-meter race in 12:22.18 to take 16th.
Zurbuchen qualified as an individual in the 100-meter dash. He ran hard in the preliminary race, but finished in 11th and did not qualify for finals. Johnson ran the 110-meter high hurdles, but ended up disqualified. The boys’ 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams ran well, but finished 15th in both races.
“We look for all these individuals and teams to build on their state experience, and make a ‘run’ to state again this year,” Fredrickson stated.
The Mounder coach is impressed with having 10 incoming freshmen girls, along with some upperclassmen as newcomers. He expects junior Emily Winchester to assist the team as a sprinter, and said freshman Kristin Martinson came off a successful cross country season. He is hoping she can help out in distance races.
On the boys’ side, eight freshmen join the team. Hanson, as mentioned previously, has the edge on his classmates after going to state in cross country. Fredrickson is eyeing Hazen and Pathos as two young talents who could help reload the distance and middle-distance teams.
So far, Fredrickson does not see many weaknesses for the Elk Mound team.
“We have wonderful leadership in place for both teams, and our numbers for the girls’ team are outstanding,” he elaborated. “Finding where all of our athletes will fit best will be a challenge for the coaching staff.”
Elk Mound’s new head coach said he sees a great blend of youth and experience on his teams this season, and the goals right now are to compete for conference and regional championships. He sees Durand and Colfax as being the Mounders’ biggest challenges on both the girls’ and boys’ teams, and said he cannot rule out the Glenwood City girls’ this season.
This season is Fredrickson’s first at the helm of the track and field program; he served as the distance coach for the prior 12 years under the tutelage of Jeff Mack. Fredrickson will be joined by Jon Langreck as a sprints and hurdles coach, Jon Linzmeier coaching shot and discus, Kyle Hazen coaching distance, middle-distance, and high jump, and Wendy Kasakaitas at discus.
Elk Mound opens its track and field season with the 2017 Northern Badger Classic indoor meet held at UW – Stout on March 25. The Mounders will return to Stout’s Johnson Field House on March 28 for another meet before heading to UW – Eau Claire on March 31.
Seniors: Kaitlyn Baier, Meredith Hainstock, Jenna Heit, Maria Heltne, Kassie Jain, Mikayla Solberg, Sarah Sweeney, George Friberg, Nic Gilpin, Hunter Johnson, Rylan Maves, Tyler Sahm, Chandler Schreiber and Noah Zurbuchen.
Juniors: Hanna Carlson, Hannah Cedarblade, Kyla Egan, Maddie Jenson, Mattea Linberg, Callie Nyren, Claudia Paul, Kayla Patterson, Sira Shepard, Gabby Wilson, Emily Winchester, Anna Wolgemuth, Kourtney Zurbuchen, Andrew Benson, Tyler Brantner, Aric Jensen, Jake Johnson, Bryce Kasper, Nate Lind, Conner Mavis, Ryan Mohr, William Muzynski and Jared Strand.
Sophomores: Victoria Fasbender, Hanna Hollister, Abby Kasper, Ciera Lind, Brynn McVey, Alana Plaszcz, Brook Plaszcz, Paige Romanowski, Amanda Sahm, Hannah Simpson, Syd Simpson, Mary Tamke, Mason Close, Jack Emberson, Rian Flynn, Dylan Hanson, Marquis Kasakaitas, Brady Redwine, Carter Scholze and Isaiah Wald.
Freshmen: Melanie Balts, Maggie Bartig, Kortnee Halgren, Lizzy Lindquist, Kristin Martinson, Laney Moyer, Nikki Munthe, Lexi Nechanicky, Taya Schaefer, Reese Southwort, Paige VanSchoonhoven, Kyle Deling, Derek Falkner, Dominic Hall, Cade Hanson, Seth Hazen, Jacob Miller, Andrew Pathos and Gaelen Young.