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Lakers defend their home track

Minnewaska junior Nolan Weisel takes fifth place with a time of 5:08 in the one-mile race Tuesday at the Lakers' home invitational. (Ryan Pietruszewski| Echo Press)1 / 3
Lakers senior Dennis VanDyke hands the baton off to sophomore Jack Blevins during a relay Tuesday at Minnewaska Area High School. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)2 / 3
Minnewaska freshman Ellie Danielson runs the 800 Tuesday at the Lakers home invitational. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)3 / 3

The Minnewaska Area boys and girls track teams braved the cold and the wind to compete in their home meet at Minnewaska Area High School on Tuesday as the girls finished first with 193.25 points — well ahead Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta's 126.5 points.

"We know Morris is a conference and subsection team, and in our first meet of the season, they beat us by seven," Lakers girls head coach Jennifer Johnsrud said. "So it's putting the puzzle together to see how we can beat them."

After finishing that far ahead of the Tigers, Minnewaska has the frame of the puzzle finished and just needs to fill in the missing spaces in the middle.

Senior sprinter Mariah Beckius took first in the 100 (13.06) and 200 (28.46) and, to her surprise, fourth in the long jump at 13 feet, 8.5 inches.

"They went pretty well," she said of her events. "But it was kind of windy and cold today, so that was a damper. But it still went well."

Behind Beckius in the 200 were Emma Kovarik and Madelynn Reichmann in third and fourth, respectively, while Kristin Glover, Kovarik and Madison Kluver took spots two-through-four in the 400.

Ellie Danielson took second in the 800 with a time of 2:31, while Jenna LaFave matched it in the 100 hurdles at 17.80 and Kara Hanson and Bailey Schoen took third and fourth in the 1600, respectively.

The Minnewaska relay teams took first in the 4x400 and 4x800 and second in the 4x100 and 4x200.

"We've been trying to put together a 4x400 that we can have an opportunity to possibly advance on, and that's coming along," Johnsrud said.

The Lakers always rely heavily upon their runners, but throwers and jumpers stepped up Tuesday to contribute a good amount of the team's points.

"That was one of the things we needed to do before the season got going. We knew we were going to have to get some points in field events other than our high jump," Johnsrud said. "Long and triple and throwing — we didn't know how that was going to go, and kids have stepped up and really helped us out."

Mackenzia Zemke took second in the long jump with a leap of 14 feet, 1 inch, followed by Beckius in fourth (13-08.50). Rachel Stai won the pole vault at a height of 7 feet, 6 inches, while Leah Mitchell took second and Marissa Bartz fourth.

Danielson had sole possession of first in the high jump (5-0), and Glover tied for fourth at 4 feet, 6 inches.

The biggest surprise in the field for the Lakers has been Natasha Nemmers' development in the throwing events.

"Natasha has been placing in the top in almost every meet, and she continues to improve," Johnsrud said. "In her first meet, she threw 83 and then the next meet 93, and then last week she threw 103 and today she threw 110. So she's really doing well."

Her 110-foot distance beat the rest of the pack by more than 10 feet, and she took first in the shot put, as well, with a throw of 32 feet, 10 inches.

The boys, who finished 19.5 points short of MACA's mark of 143, had three first-place finishes.

Gavin Rupp's shot put throw of 41 feet, 11.75 inches took the top spot. He finished second in discus with a distance of 124 feet, 9.5 inches, behind only his teammate Jordan Koubsky, who launched a disc 124 feet, 11 inches.

Mateo Arredondo vaulted 7 feet, 6 inches for third place, while Connor Johnsrud held the same position in the triple jump with a distance of 35 feet, 9 inches.

"I had an eighth grader, Connor Johnsrud, he went over 35 in the triple, that was pretty good," boys head coach Gordy Moeller said. "Our two discus throwers, they finally busted and went over 124 and that's pretty good, too."

In the high jump, Jackson and Peyton Johnsrud took first and second, respectively, with jumps of 6 feet and 5 feet, 8 inches.

The Lakers performed well in the hurdles, with Dylan Holmes taking second in the 110 with a time of 17.37 and Jaeger Jergenson (48.28) and Hunter Dougherty (49.59) placing second and third in the 300.

For relays, Minnewaska took second in the 4x200 and third in the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800.

Moeller was happy to see the effort his team put forward in the cold temperatures.

"I just like to see who competed, who rose to the occasion in spite of the cold," he said. "In a cold meet, you tend to pull muscles, and I think we came out relatively healthy."

As for goals for the year, Moeller hopes to get a few kids to this spring's state meet and defend the subsection title they earned last year.

"I think we've got three or four with legitimate shots at (making it to state)," he said.

When asked if the Lakers have a chance at defending the subsection title, he answered, "It depends upon the day and how everything pans out. Morris has got a really good team. They're going to be tough to beat. But I think we have a good team too, and if everybody shows up and we're healthy, I think we do."

TEAM RESULTS — GIRLS - 1, Minnewaska 193.25; 2, Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta 126.5; Lac qui Parle Valley-Dawson-Boyd 95.5; 4, West Central Area 76; 5, Benson-KMS 41.75; Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 12; BOYS - 1, Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta 143; 2, Minnewaska 123.5; West Central Area 96; Lac qui Parle Valley-Dawson-Boyd 88; Benson-KMS 43.5; Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 28; Hancock 25

MINNEWASKA TOP-FIVE FINISHES

GIRLS — 100-METER DASH - 1, Mariah Beckius, 13.06; 200-METER DASH - 1, Beckius, 28.46; 3, Emma Kovarik, 30.13; 4, Madelynn Reichmann, 20.64; 400-METER DASH - 2, Kristin Glover, 1:06.17; 3, Kovarik, 1:08.21; Madison Kluver, 1:10.77; 800-METER RUN - 2, Ellie Danielson, 2:31; 1600-METER RUN - 3, Kara Hanson, 6:01; 4, Bailey Schoen, 6:04; 3200-METER RUN - Schoen, 13:50; 100-METER HURDLES - 2, Jenna LaFave, 17.80; 300-METER HURDLES - 5, LaFave, 54.01; 4x100-METER RELAY - 2, Minnewaska, 57.25; 4x200-METER RELAY - 2, Minnewaska, 1:59.44; 4x400-METER RELAY - 1, Minnewaska, 4:25.29; 4x800-METER RELAY - 1, Minnewaska, 10:53; HIGH JUMP - 1, Danielson, 5-00; 5, Glover, 4-06; POLE VAULT - 1, Rachel Stai, 7-06; 2, Leah Mitchell, 6-06; 4, Marissa Bartz, 6-00; LONG JUMP - 2, Makenzia Zemke, 14-01; 4, Beckius, 13-08.50; SHOT PUT - 1, Natasha Nemers, 32-10; 3, Brianna Olson, 26-08.50; DISCUS - 1, Nemmers, 110-00; 3, Olson, 87-00

BOYS — 100-METER DASH - 5, Jackson Meyer, 11.87; 200-METER DASH - 5, Jack Blevins, 25.75; 400-METER DASH - 2, Aiden Tank, 57.29; 800-METER RUN - 5, Peyton Kolstoe, 2:16; 1600-METER RUN - Nolan Weisel, 5:08; 3200-METER RUN - 5, Aanan Schlief, 11:59; 110-METER HURDLES - 2, Dylan Holmes, 17.37; 300-METER HURDLES - 2, Jaeger Jergenson, 48.28; 3, Hunter Dougherty, 49.59; 4x100-METER RELAY - 3, Minnewaska, 47.94; 4x200-METER RELAY - 2, Minnewaska, 1:40.03; 4x400-METER RELAY - 3, Minnewaska, 3:52.97; 4x800-METER RELAY - 3, Minnewaska, 9:18; HIGH JUMP - 1, Jackson Johnsrud, 6-00; 2, Peyton Johnsrud, 5-08; POLE VAULT - 3, Mateo Arredondo, 7-06; TRIPLE JUMP - 3, Connor Johnsrud, 35-09; SHOT PUT - Gavin Rupp, 41-11.75; DISCUS - 1, Jordan Koubsky, 124-11; 2, Rupp, 124-09.50

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