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GLENWOOD CITY — Graduation took its toll on the Glenwood City girls’ and boys’ track teams.
In 2021, the Hilltopper girls finished second at the conference meet and won a regional championship while the boys placed fifth in the D-SC meet but both squads will be tasked with replacing several of their top competitors, many of which competed at state a year ago, as the 2022 season gets underway.
Gone via graduation are standouts William Eggert for the boys and Gabby Moede, Lexi Wannemacher, Bella Rassbach, Marie Garcia, Yasmin Mendez and Kinzie Strong. All of the aforementioned had state-meet experience. Eggert placed fifth in last year’s state triple jump while Wannemacher took seventh in the 300 m low hurdles, Rassbach jumped to eighth place in the long jump, Mendez took 12th in the shot put and Garcia was 15th in the 100 meter dash. Wannemacher, Rassbach, Garcia and Strong were all apart of state relay teams.
Garret Kohls, who was a solid performer in the middle distances and jumps, also graduated.
In addition, head coach Carrie Blanchard and assistant coach Nicole Miller both stepped down at the end of the season.
But there is still plenty of talent and solid numbers for new co-head coaches Tom Klatt and Ron Hanestad, both of whom have a wealth of track and field coaching knowledge and experience, to work with this season.
Klatt has 15 years of track coaching expertise as an assistant at Glenwood City and Hudson while Hanestad coached for five years at Prairie Farm, a year at Baldwin-Woodville and four years helped run a summer program for speed and strength in the Prescott School District.
Topping the list of returning talent and letterwinners are four seniors – Austin Nelson, Isabella Simmons, Brenna Schwartz and Samantha Peterson – who will be look to for leadership and points.
Austin Nelson copped a state bronze medal last year when he finished third in the Division 3 boys’ 400 meter dash. He will again be leading the team’s sprint aspirations.
Simmons, a three-time state cross country participant, will likely be competing in the middle and long distance races and on relays along with Schwartz who is also an accomplished sprinter. Peterson will look to bring points in mid-distant runs.
With 16 athletes, the junior class will represent a sizable majority of this year’s 37-member squad. That class includes Anthony Nelson, JJ Williams, Wyatt Thompson, Cody Hansen, Blake Wakeling, Brady Klatt, Owen Bauman, Nick Hierlmeier, Aria DeSmith, Elek Anderson, Madalyne Booth, Margarita Mundo, Lily Rutske, Wittnie Wittmer, Brooklyn Caress and Mali Draxler.
The sophomores contribute seven members: Will Standaert, Connor Berends, Rileigh Schwartz, Haylie Hannah, Kenzie Price, Savanna Millermon and Jackson Halbeck. There are ten freshmen competing for spots as well including Ilan Anderson, Justin Rogers, Evan Hojem, Cody Klasse, Tyler Harrington, Kaylynn Kurtz, Kylie Ohman, Elsja Meijer, Stephanie Anderson and Emily Tews.
A “Team” concept is this year’s biggest strength according to coaches Klatt and Hanestad.
“Each coach and athlete brings a special talent to the table so we are all going to coach high school and middle school as if we were one team,” stated Klatt.
But large numbers also means limited individual help from the coaching staff.
“We don’t have enough coaches to go around for everyone,” added Klatt about a possible team weakness.
But the coaches’ goals for this season are simple – get better with every meet.
As for conference finishes, Glenwood City’s new head coaches believe both the boys’ and girls’ squads are capable of competing for championships.
“We feel the boys and girls teams will be at the top of the conference,” stated Klatt.
“The boys finished the season fifth at conference and they only lost one senior. They were pretty young and had a lot of varsity experience, so we have high hopes for these young men. As for the girls, they lost a lot of talented athletes, but again there was a lot of underclassman who got a lot of varsity experience and hope to see good thing from them as well,” he concluded.
Klatt and Hanestad are being assisted by Casey Nolde (high school assistant), middle school coaches Angela Williams and Tryn Gross and volunteers Jim Williams (hurdles and jumps), Robert Vanderloop (distance) and Randy Ketola (pole vault).
Seniors: Austin Nelson, Isabella Simmons, Brenna Schwartz, Samantha Peterson
Juniors: Anthony Nelson, JJ Williams, Wyatt Thompson, Cody Hansen, Blake Wakeling, Brady Klatt, Owen Bauman, Nick Hierlmeier, Aria DeSmith, Elek Anderson, Madalyne Booth, Margarita Mundo, Lily Rutske, Wittnie Wittmer, Brooklyn Caress, Mali Draxler
Sophomores: Will Standaert, Connor Berends, Rileigh Schwartz, Haylie Hannah, Kenzie Price, Savanna Millermon, Jackson Halbeck
Freshmen: Ilan Anderson, Justin Rogers, Evan Hojem, Cody Klasse, Tyler Harrington, Kaylynn Kurtz, Kylie Ohman, Elsja Meijer, Stephanie Anderson, Emily Tews