Youth-filled girls track and field team looks to set the pace

Withstanding the loss of 26 seniors is no easy task. But the Magic girls track and field team is hopeful that the addition of 28 freshman, a handful of eighth-graders, and the return of a few top-level competitors will help them do just that.
Monti, long one of the outstanding track and field programs in the area, is hopeful they’ll maintain their spot near the top of the Mississippi 8 Conference this season, even with a roster that is heavy on freshman and sophomore athletes.
Head Coach Kim Nygaard said one of the benefits to such a young team is they’re hungry to prove themselves and ready to follow whatever practice orders they’re given.
“We just tell them that this is what they’re going to do, and they just smile,” said Nygaard, who added that there are a number of very good athletes in the mix.
The down side of such a young roster is that it puts a bit of increased pressure on the upperclassmen.
“The handful of juniors and seniors really have to step up,” said Nygaard.
A couple of talented underclassmen join the mix of girls that will be heavily relied upon. Some of the marquee names include state participants Ashanti Guertin, a freshman, and sophomore Madison McDermott. Other girls that will be relied upon are Kennedy Bican, Alayna Maher, Mara Docherty, and Kaitlyn Hellman. In throwing events, senior twins Jessica and Jordan Holker are expected to pace Monticello.
As far as event strengths, Nygaard believes Monti will have a few. Relays, long a powerhouse event for Monticello, are expected to remain competitive despite losing so much depth.
“I think the relays will still be the stronger of the events,” said Nygaard. “They are kind of our go to event.”
The coach is optimistic that Monti could be stronger in sprints and hurdles than they have been in a few years too. She also knows they’ll likely have some holes to fill in certain events.
But Nygaard admits that it’s impossible to know for sure until Monti gets into competition, beginning with their home indoor meet this afternoon.
After all, she doesn’t remember Monti ever losing a group of girls as big as what they lost this offseason.
“It’ll be interesting to see how those holes are patched,” said Nygaard, who added that she’d love to see Monti remain in the top three of the conference.
To do that, they’ll likely be counting on some new faces. The coach said there are a number of new girls to keep an eye on, including freshman Kamee Kitzman, Ally Frickel, and Juanel Roux.
Setting the tone for all of the new faces will be Monti’s five captains. Maher, Jessica Holker, Michaela Swanson, Alexa Yeager and junior Grace Schillewaert will share leadership duties for the Magic this season.
All of the athletes will get their first chance to impress at the home indoor on Thursday afternoon. Monti will be back home Tuesday, April 4, for a 4 p.m. meet. Coaches will decide Friday if that event is to be indoors or outdoors. The outdoor season is officially scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 11 when Monti travels to Big Lake for a 4 p.m. triangular with the Hornets and Rogers.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]