The future is bright for the Magic girls track team. Very, very bright.
That was on display once more as Monti wrapped up its season at the Section 8AA Track and Field Meet in Sauk Rapids on Saturday.
The Magic finished ninth at the 16-team meet, putting a finishing touch on a season that saw them introduce more than 20 freshman to the varsity level, win a number of meets, and grow by leaps and bounds.
Coach Kim Nygaard said she was “pleasantly surprised” with the way the Magic progressed this season, after waving goodbye to one of the largest graduating classes in program history last spring.
That progress was likely never more evident than a couple of weeks back when the Magic earned an impressive second-place finish at the Mississippi 8 Conference Meet.
The section meet as a whole wasn’t quite as spectacular for Monticello, but there were still a number of standout performances.
One of the stars was Lauran Zwack.
The freshman turned in a time of 2:23.13 to finish fourth in the open 800-meter run. She also joined up with Elise Yeager, Madison McDermott (eighth in the open 800), and Ashanti Guertin to lead the 4×800-meter relay team to a fourth-place finish at the meet with a time of 9:50.9.
A few weeks ago, Zwack wasn’t even an 800 runner.
“The first couple of weeks, she wanted to try everything,” said Nygaard. “Then three weeks before the conference meet, she told me she wanted to be on the 4×800-meter relay.”
Nygaard told the freshman that if she could post a 2:25, she would have a spot. She went out and did just that – the fastest mark on the team.
“She’s just a little firecracker,” said Nygaard. “She got faster and stronger at each meet.”
The Magic had several strong relays at the section meet. The 4×200 team of Olivia Kanzler, Kaitlyn Hellman, Kennedy Bican, and Alyssa Huschka finished fifth. And the 4×400 team of Kanzler, Zwack, Guertin, and McDermott finished eighth with a time of 4:14.91. The two oldest girls on any of those relay teams are Hellman and Huschka, both juniors. Bican, Kanzler, and McDermott are sophomores, while Guertin, Zwack and Yeager just finished their freshman year.
Monti also featured freshman Sophia Carlson and Mia Banack in the 4×100 relay, where they teamed up with Hellman and Bican to finish 12th.
It’s safe to say Nygaard has more than a few reasons to be looking forward to the near future.
“I’m so excited to see the relays the next couple of years, with those girls leading the way,” she said.
Kanzler had one of Monti’s best individual finishes at the meet as well, coming in fifth in the 400-meter dash with a personal best time of 1:00.25.
Eighth-grader Gabriella Witschen just missed earning a point for the Magic in individual events, finishing in ninth place in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:33.72 and 12th in the 3200. Elise Yeager was 10th in the 3200 for Monti.
In field events, Nygaard said Monti had a particularly good showing in discus. Jade Kopff finished 23rd at the meet with a toss of 92-05.05. Jessica Holker was 33rd and Hope Meierhofer was 35th, with two of the three Magic athletes recording personal bests.
Girls hitting their peak late in the season seemed to be the story of the year for Monti. Whether it was at the conference meet, or the section meet, Monti proved late that they were better than ever. And it’s that progression and forward track that make the future seem so bright.
“From March until the end of May, every girl on the team bettered themselves,” said Nygaard. “They ended their season with some of their best performances.”
The coach also said this team had some of the best unity she’s been around as a coach.
“We’re in this together,” she said, of the team’s mentality. “They definitely were very supportive of each other.”
Nygaard is confident that the section meet, where the young Magic squad ran into some big, strong and fast upperclassmen athletes, will serve as motivation for her girls as they head into the offseason.
“They are very athletic and they are very driven. They will lift, they will be speedy,” said Nygaard. “This group is very motivated and determined.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]