Every team, every year and in every sport, seems to have a new makeup. There are years with experience. There are years with talent. There are years with youth, and years with excitement.
For the Magic girls track and field team, 2014 has a chance to be the year that combines each of those things.
The girls, like the boys, were the hosts to a four-team indoor meet at Monticello High School Tuesday night, featuring Big Lake, Cambridge-Isanti, and Maple Lake. But with almost a third of the roster not participating due to spring break travel, coach Kim Nygaard said the Magic will learn a lot more about where they stand when they host another meet next Tuesday.
Still, Nygaard has seen enough early in the year and knows enough about what is coming back, to be excited to get this season started.
“I’ve been very happy,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of returning kids and we have a good ninth grade group.”
Nygaard said that as they’ve waited for some of their upperclassmen to finish their winter sports and get going with track, she has been impressed with the way the younger girls have filled in.
“They have pulled their weight and worked hard every day,” she said.
And now that the veterans are back and ready to pull their weight, the freshman should have some talented, and experienced, teammates to learn from.
The Magic bring back strong performers in the majority of events.
In distance, Amber Seidenkranz, the five-time all-state cross country runner, will be leading the way for Monticello, along with Krista Steele, a strong returning performer.
In flat sprints, it will be junior Mackenzie Cruzen looking to make up for a lack of depth.
“We have one girl that is ridiculously fast,” said Nygaard, noting that they’re trying to fill in around her.
Senior Grace Sawatzke will possibly add some depth to the sprints, while also being one of Monticello’s top jumpers.
Emily Dockendorf and Tess Voller are two more juniors who Nygaard expects to make big contributions early.
“It’s a lot of the same names,” said Nygaard, referencing the girls who have been top performers for a while now and adding that this combination of experience and young talent is an ideal mix for a coach.
As far as events where Monticello is deep, Nygaard expects the Magic to excel in hurdles and longer relays, while adding that jumping could be a hidden strong suit.
“Jumpers could be the dark horse for us,” said Nygaard, adding that she was seeing jumps on Tuesday that already equaled where many of her girls finished last season.
As far as weaknesses, Nygaard is hopeful the team won’t have too many. There were question marks about pole vaulting coming into the year, but she said Joe Macki’s coaching has numerous girls already vaulting 7’6”.
“That’s good news,” said Nygaard.
Nygaard, like any other coach, is anxious to get outside. But she said the Magic do have some advantages while inside. The field house provides the opportunity for their hurdlers, high jumpers and pole vaulters to all get practice, something that a lot of other teams don’t get the chance to do until they’re outside.
When they do get outside and get started with the conference season, Nygaard expects the top competition to be the same, despite the addition of a few new teams to the Mississippi 8.
The coach said she looks for Big Lake, Buffalo, St. Michael-Albertville and Cambridge to be near the top of the conference, along with Monticello of course.
“I’m thinking [we can be] top three in the conference,” said Nygaard. “Thinking about what the other schools had last year, that’s a viable goal.”
If Monticello is to accomplish their goal, she knows they’ll rely on their returning studs, but also on continuing to develop the younger athletes, as they look to score points across the board.
“We always have a couple of strong athletes,” said Nygaard. “But if you look at us year after year, the girls have depth.”
Monticello will learn more about their depth when the full squad hosts another four-team indoor meet Tuesday, April 1 at Monticello High School. The meet, which is for both boys and girls, will be between Buffalo, Princeton, North Branch and Monti. It is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
The Magic won Tuesday’s meet in convincing fashion, tallying 106 team points. Cambridge-Isanti finished second with 46 points. The Magic got strong performances across the board, including champions in a whopping 10 events.
Monticello swept the three relay events, while picking up individual victories in 7 other events. The individual winners were: Tess Voller (55-meter hurdles), Mackenzie Cruzen (55-meter dash, 200-meter dash), Grace Sawatzke (400-meter dash), Amber Seidenkranz (2400-meter run), Krista Steele (1000-meter run) and Rebecca Hiltner (shot put).
Contact Clay Sawatzke at email@example.com