Alexandria girls navigate learning curve in opening win over Moorhead

The Alexandria girls came away with their first win of the season on Saturday, but it came with some growing pains. Head coach Meghan Orgeman talked about the struggles of missing last year and how it has impacted her current athletes.

Aleah Miller stars the 4x400-meter race for Alexandria's second-place team in a dual meet against Moorhead at Alexandria Area High School. Miller, Emma Ecker, Brynn Kosters and Hallie Kent finished with a time of 4:34.32 on Apr. 10, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Alexandria girls track and field head coach Meghan Orgeman isn't taking anything for granted this spring. After losing the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Orgeman was excited to see her girls compete for the first time in two years on Saturday.

"The first thing you feel being on the track is just joy," Orgeman said. "The kids were joyful. The coaches were joyful. There was definitely nervous anticipation, but we are just grateful to get the opportunity again this year. We can't take things for granted anymore."

The Cardinals got their first win of the season out of the way by racking up 87.1666 team points in a dual meet against Moorhead. Alexandria athletes took first place in 10 out of 16 events.

While getting the first team win of the season is important, it came secondary to gaining experience on Saturday. While missing last season was unfortunate for the seniors who didn't get a chance to compete for a final time, it also forced underclassmen to grow up quicker than usual.

"The majority of our kids have not competed in a high school track meet before," Orgeman said. "Learning how high school track meets go, how to warm up properly, and how to report to races properly is definitely a learning curve. We'll continue to teach our kids, and our kids will continue to learn. There were jitters and some what-do-I-do moments. But the biggest feeling was just gratitude, joy and excitement."


Spring teams around the state found themselves behind the eight ball again. Due to inclement weather and a shortened pre-season practice schedule, some kids tried their full events for the first time.

"We had kids run all 10 hurdles for the first time on Saturday," Orgeman said. "There wasn't as much practice time as normal. It felt like a rush to get everybody prepared."

Orgeman has over 70 girls out for track this spring. On large teams, she looks to assistant coaches and seniors to help guide newcomers in the early part of the season. But with so many new faces on the varsity roster, the feeling-out process is more extensive.

"Sophomores, juniors and seniors usually all kind of know the drill," Orgeman said. "They all kind of know what a track meet is like, so it's easy for them to take the freshman under their wing and show them the way. Now, I bet 70% of our team is new instead of around 25%. Usually, our great leaders take care of all of those questions in the first few meets. But this time, there were more kids who never had a high school meet than did."

Now more than ever, the coaches rely on the small number of athletes who have been there and done that before. Orgeman has seen her seniors step up and embrace the leadership roles the team needs.

Jaelyn Miller (back) hands the baton to Emma Reineke in Alexandria's third-place 4x400-meter relay on Apr. 10, 2021. Miller, Reineke, Taelor Drummer and Amya Hagen finished in 4:40.41 to help Alexandria beat Moorhead in its home opener. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

"I can speak for the girls, and I'm sure Mike (Empting) would say the same for the boys, but I have an incredible group of seniors," Orgeman said. "They are enthusiastic and are so good at supporting all the girls and making them feel like they are part of this team. They are doing a tremendous job putting their own needs second to helping our team. We also have a great group of juniors who were freshmen the last time they competed. I'm really grateful for the leaders that we do have because I think it would be much harder if we didn't have them."


Each athlete could benefit from one-on-one time in practice from a coach. But with so many kids and so little time, Orgeman can't be everywhere at once. With her assistant coaches' help, she's found comfort in knowing her team is progressing every day.

"Track is a participation sport, and the coach-to-athlete ratio is quite large," Orgeman said. "Our assistant coaches are incredible. Each one has its own event group. We are working very hard to make sure we can get them in small groups to connect with those kids to make sure all of their questions are answered. Now, you throw in nerves at a track meet, and those answers can get flipped upside down. But we want to make sure we give the kids space to learn and ask questions. We've enjoyed connecting with the kids and being able to get back outside this spring."


100M HURDLES- 1st- Alexis Cole 18.19, 2nd- Dylan Witt 19.20; 100M DASH- 1st- Jisella Haskamp 13.54; 2nd- Hailie Kent 13.58; 4X200M RELAY- 2nd- Marissa Rousu, Emma Ballou, Maih Wessell, Greta Oldenkamp 1:56.63; 1600M RUN- 1st- Aleah Miller 5:28.91, 2nd- Taelor Dummer 5:48.35; 200M DASH- 1st- Kent 28.50; 2nd- Haskamp 28.75; 4X400M RELAY- 2nd- Aleah Miller, Emma Ecker, Brynn Kosters, Kent 4:34.32; 3rd- Jaelyn Miller, Reineke, Dummer, Hagen 4:40.41; HIGH JUMP- 1st- Oldenkamp 4-04.00, 2nd- Haskamp 4.00; 4X100M RELAY- 1st- Kent, Elena Fuglestad, Whitly Netland, Cole 53.82; 3rd- Ella Steussy, Addison Fettig, Marrisa Linow, Ailynn Fettig 56.04; 400M DASH- 3rd- Oldenkamp 1:06.30; 300M HURDLES- 1st- Cole 52.03; 2nd- Fuglestad 52.94, 3rd- Witt 54.76; 800M RUN- 1st- Jaelyn Miller 2:31.08; 2nd- Ecker 2:34.04; 3rd- Emma Reineke 2:34.27; POLE VAULT- 2nd- Cole 7-06.00; LONG JUMP- 1st- Fuglestad 16-01.50; 2nd- Steussy 15-03.75; TRIPLE JUMP- 1st- Kent 34-01.00; DISCUS- 2nd- Sophia Vinje 90-06, 3rd- Amaria Sowada 86-00; SHOT PUT- 2nd- Vinje 31-07.50

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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