The long-awaited and much-anticipated thaw is on, and area high school athletes are chomping at the bit to get the spring season underway. Coaches are optimistic and look forward to successful journeys in 2013.
Returning six starters from last year’s squad, the Eden Valley-Watkins baseball team should be highly competitive in the circuit. Senior Brent Stenger plays outfield and hits lead off. Alex Geislinger, in his final year, plays outfield and shares ace duties on the mound with senior Hayden Willner. Seniors Austin Berg and Travis Linn flank the left side of the infield at third base and shortstop, respectively, and rounding out the group is junior outfielder Cain Renner.
Coach Mike Tomsche is excited about the 2013 campaign. “We expect to be very competitive this year, if our pitching improves. Willner and Geislinger will be our top two guys, but we need to have someone step up in the 3, 4, and 5 spots.”
Coming off a tremendous 16-9 effort last year, the Eden Valley-Watkins girls’ softball team snatched the section 5A championship and earned their first ever trip to the state tournament. “We lost three seniors to graduation, and we will be looking to fill those holes at catcher, first base and right field,” Coach Dave Dziengel said. All-section returning players are senior pitcher Baylee Lahr; senior Holly Schumacher, third base; senior center fielder Kaylee Forcier; sophomore shortstop Brook Stang; and junior Jamie Scherer, second base. Also returning are sophomore outfielder Mindy Forcier and senior catcher/outfielder Mickael Lies-Thielen. Others looking to secure positions are seniors Briana Plantenberg and Tina Streit, juniors Ashley Huschle and Lexi Klatt, and eighth-grader Briana Stang.
Dziengel looks forward to a good, highly-contested season. “I see Browerville and Kimball as the teams to beat in our subsection, and I’m anxious to get out of the gym, soon!”
The Eden Valley-Watkins-Kimball boys’ golf team is led by first-year Coach Jason Huschle, replacing Mike Novak, who held the reins for the past eight years. With just two returning seniors, Patrick Latcham and Cole Stang, the squad is very young and relatively inexperienced. Other returning golfers with some varsity experience include junior Luke Merten and sophomores Quinten Berres, Cameron Flaschenriem, Brandon Schiefelbein, Skyler Schiefelbein and Logan Schlueter.
“We unfortunately lost our top golfer from last year, sophomore Tommy Wuertz, who injured his back this winter and will not be able to golf this spring,” Huschle said. Wuertz placed in the conference last year, as a freshman. Coach Huschle is enthusiastic about his young bunch. “With such a young team, my biggest expectation for my golfers this year is that they come every day ready to work at getting better, and to show improvement from the beginning of the season to the end.”
The girls’ track and field team of Eden Valley-Watkins-Kimball returns several veterans from last year. Tiffany Kuechle, Brittany Hesse, Macey Hurrle, Madison Hurrle, Raevon Willner, Allie Seth, Marissa Johnson, and Emily Donnay are the top returning members. Coach Gordy Schlangen is confident his team can be successful. “Our team expectations for the season are to be competitive at every meet and hopefully finish toward the top of the conference. There are a number of girls who have a real chance to be an integral part of the team.”
Boasting two returning state entrants from last year, namely, Kimball’s Connor Wittenberg and EV-W’s Austin Pelkey, the Eden Valley-Watkins-Kimball boys’ track team is poised to be real contenders in 2013. Coach Jason Mortenson sees a promising season looming. “We should be in the top three in the conference as a team, and hopefully we can defend our subsection championship and send a lot of events to the section meet.”
The team captains are Austin Pelkey, sprinter and long jump, Austyn Schlueter, shot and disc, Torey Rohloff, sprint relays, Kirby Knutson, high jump and triple jump, Connor Wittenberg, hurdles, high jump and triple jump, and DeShaun James, long jump.
On the heels of back-to-back winning seasons, the Kimball baseball Cubs hope to keep that streak alive. There will be a number of new faces on this year’s varsity squad, and Coach Adam Beyer is well aware of the weather adjustments that must be made. “For the first time in these high-schooler’s careers, they are experiencing gym practice. Last year the first day of practice was outside with 60 degrees temps. With space restricted the team is showing good potential.”
The only two seniors on the team are Tim Konz (first base) and Preston Peglow (center field); both two time letter winners. Juniors Mathias Hennen (pitcher/shortstop) and Cameron Hunt (pitcher/outfield) are returning from last year’s team. Looking to fill the remaining spots left from last year’s departures will be a number of guys from the JV that consisted of 18 players. Mitch Klein, Joey VanWahlde, and Derek Jensen are competing for playing time in the middle infield. Troy Filzen will see most of the innings behind the plate, Ben Serbus has been working at third base, and Hunter Shreifels will see time in right field as well as doing some catching. “Additionally, there are a number of JV sophomores that will be pushing these guys for playing time,” Beyer said.
The 2013 Kimball Cubs Fast-Pitch softball team is coming off a season where they were one game away from a state berth. Assistant Coach Eric Primus has moved from the JV position to the head coaching position, and he is assisted by Meagan Libbesmeier and Whitney Gettler. This year’s varsity team is young, returning just five players. The majority of the pitching responsibilities go to the capable hands of junior Alexis Rose. Freshman Lauren Libbesmeier is opening-day catcher, backed up by junior Paige Ruehle. Senior Breane Meierhofer returns for her second year as starting shortstop. Junior Stacy Hurrle anchors third base, while second base duties are split between senior Kelsey Libbesmeier and junior Shelby Schiefelbein. Holly Donnay rounds out the infield tasks at first base. The outfield returns mostly in-tact with senior Katelyn Lichte in right field and senior Raelynn Callander covering center. Freshman Madison Libbesmeier completes the defense in left field. Senior Kaylee Petty will see time at first base, second base, and right field.
Despite the team’s youth, many of the girls have competed together for years through summer programs, and Coach Primus is very optimistic as he ponders his squad’s future. “We have been in the gym for the past four weeks, but looking at the girls you would think that we just swept the state champions. The girls’ spirits are high and many have their sights set on Mankato in June.”
Coach Kristine O’Brien is leading the Eden Valley-Watkins-Kimball girls’ golf team into the 2013 season. This year there are 5 returning golfers; senior captain Paiten Schreiner, junior Erin Salo, sophomores Nicole Vossen, Hannah Serbus and Madelyn O’Brien. All will be filling the varsity line up this year. Freshman Mariah Lease and seventh-graders Trinity Erickson, Sarah Wirz, and Emily Sieben, will golf at the JV level. Bob Deem, manager at the Kimball Golf Club, has joined the coaching staff as the JV/Junior High coach. Last year, the girls’ golf team took third in the Central Minnesota Conference, with two members of the team, Erin Dingmann and returning player Nicole Vossen, making the All-Conference Team. “The girls are looking forward to competing this year and hope they can finish in the top three teams again. The weather has not cooperated this year, postponing the first three meets, but the varsity is slated to begin Tuesday, April 16, at Albion Ridges, Thursday, April 18, at Shamrock Golf Course, and an 18-hole tournament at New London-Spicer Friday, April 19,” said O’Brien.
The 2013 high school Spring sports season promises to be a highly competitive and fun-filled experience for participants and fans alike. Full schedules are available on the individual school’s websites or by visiting the Minnesota State High School League website at http://mshsl.org/mshsl/index.asp.