Team: Mayer Lutheran track and field
Head coach: Tim Bierbaum
Conference: Minnesota River
Section: Class A, Section 4
2013 finish: Mayer Lutheran had a strong season in 2013, bringing home multiple top-five finishes and two school records. The girls were second at St. Croix Lutheran and Belle Plaine, third at another Belle Plaine meet, and the 4A True Team Section meet. The Crusaders girls finished fifth in the conference championships, while the boys were sixth. The boys were second at St. Croix and Belle Plaine, third at True Team Sections, fourth at Delano. Hannah Truniger, then a sophomore, reset the school’s 20-year-old record in the 1600-meter run at the True Team Section meet. At sections in late May, Truniger was runner up in the 3200 meter run. She qualified for the state competition and finished second, breaking another school record. Senior Kyle Fredrickson also qualified for the state meet and finished sixth in his heat of the 800-meter run preliminaries. A stress fracture kept Fredrickson out of his other state-qualifying event, the 4×800 relay. The relay team of seniors Alex Fredrickson, Chase Greenhagen, Jesse Greenhagen, and then-junior Dain Aarrestad finished 14th in the event.
Key returners: All-Conference runner and state runner up Hannah Truniger returns as a sophomore, after a breakout freshman season. All-Conference Honorable Mention runner and jumper Maria Kuntz is back for her junior season. Sprinter Lauren Schroeder and mid-distance runner Sam Bartz, both seniors, will also be big points contributors this year after solid junior seasons.
On the boys’ side, seniors Dain Aarrestad and Colin Hilk return, after earning All-Conference honors for their 4×400 meter relay last season. Aarrestad stepped up at the state competition to run the 4×800 meter relay last season after a last minute injury pulled Kyle Fredrickson from competition. Mark Esser also returns to lead the Crusaders in the throws, while Jacob Carlson and Rhett Kovar will also return to cover the pole vault, hurdles, and vertical jumps.
Key newcomers: While most of the faces on the Crusader track teams may not be necessarily new, many will be stepping up to fill the holes left by last season’s 18 departing seniors. Junior Taylor Otterstatter is expected to lead the boys in the middle distance running events and some jumps, while senior Mitch Krause is showing early promise as a sprinter. Christina Erdmann and Kate Esser, while not new to the team, will continue to represent Mayer Lutheran in the hurdles and hope to make a bigger impact this season.
Bierbaum, said it’s hard to judge what incoming athletes will jump into varsity roles, as he doesn’t get to work with them at the junior high level.
“I know we always find a number of ninth graders that are impactful,” he said.
Teams to beat: Fielding the biggest team in the conference, Belle Plaine will aim to defends its conference crown this season.
“Belle Plaine is definitely the top of the conference,” Bierbaum said, for both the boys and girls. The boys will also have a formidable opponent in Jordan this season.
At the section level, which includes 30 other teams, the Crusaders aren’t quite sure what to expect.
“We don’t see a lot of teams from our section throughout the season,” Bierbaum said.
Their first taste of the Section 4A teams will be at the True Team Section meet in Maple Lake on May 6.
Goals: Bierbaum has yet to sit down with the seniors and decide on goals for the season, but said some never change.
“It is always one of our goals to win True Team Sections,” he said. “We really are looking at that as some place we’ll be stronger than in the past.”
Host team Maple Lake will be a large roadblock this season on the Crusaders way to the True Team title.
Earlier season worries for the Crusaders include numbers. In order to compete in all events, the Crusaders need at least 18 athletes on each side. Injuries can also be an issue. But Bierbaum said he has found success in encouraging students to be three and four-event athletes.
“That has always been one of our strengths,” he said.
First meet: The Crusaders kicked off the season with a fourth place finish at Minnesota State University – Mankato on March 22. Hailing a spring-break reduced roster and competing against six of the conference teams, both boys’ and girls’ squads finished fourth in the indoor meet.
Sophomore Kalie Winter kicked things off for the LHS girls, picking up three points by finishing sixth in the 55-meter dash. Freshman Kiah Bakken was sixth in the 400-meter dash, before Kuntz finished as runner up in the 800-meter run. Truniger picked up right where she left off last season, winning both the 1000- and 1600-meter runs.
Erdmann was fifth in the 55-meter high hurdles, while Esser was eighth. Esser also tied for seventh in the 55-meter intermediate hurdles. The girls 4×400 relay team finished second.
In the jumps, Kuntz was fifth in the high jump before Erdmann and Esser finished 3-4 in the pole vault. Junior Hannah Zahrte finished fourth in the long jump, while junior Audryana Metteer was eighth in the shot put.
For the boys, Kovar finished sixth in the 55-meter dash, before Otterstatter was sixth in the 200. Aarrestad picked up six points for his third place finish in the 400-meter dash, where sophomore Ben Quiram was eighth. Hilk was sixth in the 800, before Quiram collected more points with a sixth place finish in the 1600.
Carlson tied for fifth in the 55-meter intermediate hurdles. Two relay teams, the 4×200 and 4×400, finished third.
Kovar tied for fourth in the high jump and sixth in the long jump, and Carlson was fourth in the pole vault. Otterstatter leaped his way to a third place finish in the triple jump, while seniors Mason Diedrick and Mark Esser were fourth and eighth, respectively, in the shot put.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com