Young Merrill track girls aren?t intimidated
Coaches- Bethany Martinovici (1st yr. head), assts. John Bezier (19th yr.), Matt Callope (2nd yr.), Melissa Yuska (1st yr.).
Last season’s accomplishments- WVC 4th indoor, 6th outdoor, 2 events at state.
Major losses- Jessica Sabey (spr./LJ/SP), Emily Jones (state Q PV/spr./TJ, PV rec.), Ashley Riehle (SP/D), Chelsea Kufahl (SP/D), Jourdyn Mootz (400/800); jrs. Renee Sladek (5th/7th state discus, 9th SP, conf., champ & SQ HJ, 400 rel. rec.), Mandy Vonderheid (SQ & 400 rel. rec.) and sr. Katelynn Krueger (spr./hur.) to injury.
Key returnees- srs. Brianna Piepenbrok (SQ 400 rel.), Daneeca Stewart (spr./jumps), Kendra Andreska (MD/hur.), Hannah Marrier (hurd.); jrs. Aubrey Wardall (all-WVC discus), Ashley Berton (400/300 IH/PV), Lauren Hojan (jumps/400/800), sophs. Morgan Marnholtz (state Q TJ, spr./MD), Kaitlin Berry (spr.), Christa Schleif (PV, hurd.).
Promising newcomers- jr. McKenna Robbins, Sierra Smith; soph. McKenna Folz; frosh Anna Finnell, Kennedy Soderberg, Morgan Pettit, Rylee Folz, Lisa Krueger.
Martinovici quotable- “My expectations for the season begin with the opportunity for everyone to try new events and see success with their hard work. We have a young squad with and without experience that will make this season challenging and fun. We have seen great potential for many athletes within the first couple of weeks, but need them to take care of their bodies as competition in the off season proves different for each athlete. The girls who didn’t do much in the off season are paying for it with a few more bumps and bruises than the others.
“Soon, everyone will be on track and with the hard work at practice, great results will be seen in meets. I have had the unique opportunity to coach many of these girls at the middle school level. Granted, many things have changed since then, I know their potential and competitive drive that will only encourage hard work. This opportunity for me at the high school will give me the chance to see how they have grown and developed as athletes at the next level.
“I would like to see us finish above sixth place at conference, but we will take each meet with stride and work hard for that chance. Everyone will have to bring their A game and compete to their fullest potential as we edge closer. We definitely don’t want anyone peaking before that time.
“We have several athletes with the ability to compete in multiple events and score many points each meet. We are working as a nicely oiled machine with each girl doing their part in practices and at meets.
“Each girl has a unique set of qualities and abilities that they bring to the team. We have several with experience that will help the new athletes adapt. They are working hard with their coaches and well together. I am glad their hasn’t been much drama. The more of a team they are, the better we will perform as a team. Supporting each other is a large part of track and field that they will carry with them after the season and after high school. They must learn how each other interacts and how effective they can become.
“Morgan Marnholtz has already broken the indoor 400 record at the high school with only 1 meet in. She has set the bar high already for her this season, but is always working towards meeting the challenge. The 4×4 team will also be a group of girls to watch perform. Racing indoors proves to be a challenge with all the corners that they run, but they are a solid group of girls who will change the game later this season when we can compete on the track.
“From what I have seen, the team has been very supportive and encouraging of each other. Communication between the athletes and coaches has improved and a great amount of trust has been received. The upperclassmen have accepted the new athletes well and include them into the lineup with positive encouragement. So far, so good!”