While the Crusader track and field teams may not have been rolling in hardware this season, the athletes found inner successes on the track and in the field, as each individual continued to improve throughout the season, definitely the teams’ greatest successes in 2014, according to LHS head coach Tim Bierbaum.
“The greatest thing that happened this year was the constant improvement that we saw with each individual throughout the year,” he said. “This was signified by the 40-50 season or personal bests that we saw at every meet.”
Continually improving this season wasn’t an easy achievement, as the Crusaders battled crummy weather and an ever-changing schedule.
“Because of weather and other events we only practiced on our track 12 times this spring,” he said. “Running on the road produces injuries.”
The weather was the only low point that Bierbaum could see in a season of successes. Throughout the year the Crusader teams finished in the middle of pack at most meets, but not without handfuls of top 10 finishes and event wins.
The season began April 10 in Hutchinson where the girls were fourth. The LHS girls went on to a fourth place finish in Jordan April 15, before capturing the team title at the LeSueur-Henderson quadrangular on April 22. A fifth place finish at Delano rounded out April for the girls.
In May, the Mayer Lutheran girls’ team was third at True Team sections and second at St. Croix Lutheran, both in the first full week of May. They went on to finish fifth in the MRC Championships in Belle Plaine on May 15.
The Crusader boys had similar results during the regular season, starting with a sixth place finish at Hutchinson April 10, fourth place at Jordan a few days later, third at LeSueur-Henderson, and sixth at Delano, all in April. In May, the boys were fifth at True Team Sections, third at St. Croix Lutheran, and finished sixth in the MRC Championships.
Bierbaum said the Crusaders performed well all season, despite typically competing against bigger, stronger, and more dominant programs.
“We didn’t make it to True Team State, but we were really pleased with the performances and team placings that we had throughout the year,” he said. “We did really well at meets for the sized teams that we had.”
Sections brought an even bigger challenge, but multiple Crusaders rose to the occasion, pulling off top 10 finishes, collecting three state entries, and a number of other close calls.
As teams, the girls were sixth and the boys finished 15th overall at the Section 4A meet.
Hannah Truniger qualified for state in two events, the 1600 and 3200 meter races, while Rebecca Manteuffel surprised the field with an event win in the discus to also qualify for state.
In her second state appearance, Truniger appeared on the medals podium twice, finishing second in the 3200 meters and third in the 1600. Manteuffel finished sixth in her flight of the discus throw, but fell just shy of making the finals.
Throughout the year, Bierbaum said he simply enjoyed seeing the growth of individuals.
“Coach Wismar and I just enjoy seeing these kids grow as athletes, young adults, and in the faith,” he said. “Nothing is more satisfying than helping guide these kids into Christian leaders.”
But with the end of every season comes good byes to senior athletes. Especially for a small, close program like Mayer Lutheran, senior holes are always apparent at the beginning of the next season.
“Every senior athlete was an important athlete,” Bierbaum said. “When there are only 20 boys and 30 girls, anyone we lose makes a significant impact.”
He said all of the upcoming seniors will take on the leadership roles left behind, while most of the teams’ largest point earners are slated to return for the Crusaders.
“Dain Aarrestad, Jacob Carlson, Charlie Menke, and Rhett Kovar were our big points earners this year on the boys side and they all return,” Bierbaum said. “For the girls our big point earners were Sam Bartz, Christina Erdmann, Klara Koch, Maria Kuntz, Kate Esser, and Hannah Truniger, and only Sam is a senior.”
Truniger was the team’s only All-Conference honoree, receiving the accolades in both the 1600 and 3200 meter races. Team awards included Most Valuable Athlete (Maria Kuntz, Rhett Kovar, and Jacob Carlson), Most Valuable Runner (Truniger), and Most Valuable Thrower (Manteuffel, Mason Diedrick, and Mark Esser).
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]