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Paynesville Press - March 22, 2006

Girls to open track season on Saturday

By Michael Jacobson

Having advanced to state true team track for the second straight year and having won their sixth subsection title since 1992 last year, the PAHS girls' track team is eyeing another successful season with 16 returning letterwinners in 2006.

Last year, the Dogs finished second in the West Central Conference North behind St. Cloud Cathedral, won their section in true team, placing seventh at state, and won the subsection title. They had seven All Conference performers and four All State performers, as their 1,600-meter relay finished seventh at state.

Returning letterwinners for the Dogs this year are: senior captains Tara Schmidt (sprints) and Kacie Wander (400-meter relay); juniors Tanis Beireis (pole vault and middle- and long-distance runs); Tina Liestman (pole vault and triple jump); Andrea McCorquodale (sprints); Kirsten Miller (hurdles and sprints); captain Kacy Nehowig (long-distance runs); and Randi Schaefer (throws, high jump, and 400-meter relay); sophomores Leah Felling (middle-distance runs); Kaitlyn Frenchick (triple jump and middle- and long-distance runs); Melanie Koerner (middle-distance runs); and Natalie Leadem (throws and middle-distance runs); and ninth graders Kally Felling (sprints); Erin Guzy (middle-distance runs); Bri Jaeger (sprints); and Anna Kotten (hurdles, pole vault, and high jump).

Felling, Jaeger, and Frenchick earned All State honors last year by winning the Section 5A title in the 1,600-meter relay (with graduated senior Kendra Johnson) and placing seventh at state.

Jaeger (second in the 400-meter run), Nehowig (first in the 1,600-meter run), Schaefer (second in the discus), Kotten (second in the pole vault), and the winning 800-meter relay team (Felling, Jaeger, and Schmidt, along with Johnson) earned All Conference honors last year.

Newcomers to the varsity team this year are: sophomore Alyssa Tish (sprints), ninth graders Laura Binsfeld (sprints), Ariel Jones (throws), and Stacy Orbeck (hurdles and discus), and eighth graders Aly Schultz (sprints) and Krista Topp (hurdles and sprints).

The Dogs lost only two seniors to graduation last year - Johnson and Rachel Wendlandt - but Johnson was the team's top point-getter last year and earned All Conference honors in the high jump, 300-meter hurdles, and as part of the 800-meter relay team. She qualified for state individually in the 300-meter hurdles and was part of the 1,600-meter relay team that placed seventh at state.

To earn a return trip to state in true team - which gives points to all participants (two per team) in individual events, rather than just to the top six or eight placers - the Dogs will have to replace Johnson's four events (both hurdles and the high jump as well as a relay leg) and Wendlandt's one (long jump).

Kotten is the Dogs top hurdler, said coach Dave Randgaard, but there's competition for the second spot. Schaefer is now the team's top high jumper, with Kotten among those vying for the second spot.

Jaeger figures to compete in the long jump, as well as Schmidt, but the Dogs still need to find a second triple jumper. Frenchick, who set a new school record in the event last year, returns as the top triple jumper this year.

In true team, Sauk Centre moved into the Dogs' section. The Dogs beat Sauk Centre by five points at last year's conference meet, taking second with the Mainstreeters third, but the Streeters went to state in cross country last fall, did not graduate anyone, and have strength in the long-distance runs and the sprints, said Randgaard, who calls them the favorite in the section for true team.

The Dogs have advanced to state in true team three times: 1996, 2004, and 2005.

Otherwise, the Dogs' schedule is very similar to last year. They will start the season on Saturday, March 25, with an indoor meet at St. John's University, starting at 6:30 p.m. They will go to the new track at Albany on Tuesday, April 18, instead of going to Melrose. And they will host three home meets: Monday, April 10; Thursday, April 27; and subsections on Wednesday, May 24.

The WCC North meet this year will have two additional teams - Minnewaska and New London-Spicer - but St. Cloud Cathedral remains the favorite for the conference title. The Crusaders won the conference meet last year, while the Dogs upset them in 2004.

The Dogs also have moved into a new subsection for individuals with Albany, BBE, Holdingford, Melrose, Paynesville, St. Cloud Cathedral, and St. John's Prep.

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