Zach Traphagen just came off his first season leading the Brandon-Evansville girls basketball team, and he was excited about the chance to take over the Ashby-Brandon-Evansville track and field programs, as well.
Traphagen took over for former head coach Jennifer Froemming, and had four practices with this group before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down spring activities in Minnesota. During that short window, he liked the energy he saw from his boys and girls.
“Adjusting to new coaching styles can be a difficult transition, but we saw some leaders emerging towards the end of the week, which was fantastic,” Traphagen said. “Judging off of last year's results, the group of upperclassmen for the boys returning is very solid. We have some talented kids who can score points for us consistently in distance events, sprints, hurdles, relays, jumps, and throws.”
A-B-E has a young roster with just three seniors between the boys and girls teams. Blake Merritt, Max DeNeys and Caitlyn Deschene make up that group, while 10 other juniors in Cailey Schlosser, Bobby Anderson, Nathan Baumann, Nolan Bitzan, Anakin Bosek, Cade Carlson, Mike Cochran, Deklin Goeden, Kobe Reiland and Jake Rein add some experience.
“For the girls, we are fairly young with only a couple of juniors and seniors out, but the sophomore and freshman class has some athletes who are ready to compete at the varsity level,” Traphagen said. “We think both the boys and girls teams would be able to put together some really competitive sprint relay teams this year. Our goals are always to be performing at our best in May when we are competing at true team sections, conference, Section 6A and hopefully the state meet. It's such a great feeling for the athlete when they are competing against the highest level, and they are setting new personal records in those meets.”
Traphagen said he would not change his expectations for his teams if athletes are given an opportunity to compete in May.
“I think these kids would be extremely determined if given the chance to still be able to compete this year,” he said. “Our times/marks might not be where we would want them to normally be in May, but these aren't normal circumstances so that kind of comes with the territory. I know there are a number of athletes who are continuing to train on their own during this quarantine.”
Traphagen misses being around the kids right now and building relationships with them that come through coaching a team for the first season.
“You never truly understand how important human interaction is for the soul until you get put in a situation where you can't have that contact,” Traphagen said. “Track is such a unique sport in which social interaction is a huge part in building a great culture of respect and competitiveness. We just miss not being able to work with these kids on a daily basis. It’s just an excellent group of kids we're blessed with on the A-B-E track and field team.”
(Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota State High School League spring activities season is suspended through at least May 4. Whether a season will be played at all is very much up in the air, but these spring preview stories are meant to give coaches for area teams an opportunity to share what they think their players might be capable of if any type of season is played this year.)
2020 ASHBY-BRANDON-EVANSVILLE TRACK AND FIELD
SENIORS - Caitlyn Deschene, Max DeNeys, Blake Merritt; JUNIORS - Cailey Schlosser, Bobby Anderson, Nathan Baumann, Nolan Bitzan, Anakin Bosek, Cade Carlson, Mike Cochran, Deklin Goeden, Kobe Reiland, Jake Rein; SOPHOMORES - Katrina Buccholz, Catherine Koefod, Celi Nelson, Taylor Yeats, Abram Fossell, Sam Heeter, Derick Novotny, Wesley Siira; FRESHMEN - Gretchen Bredberg, EmmaLee Brethorst, Kennedy Daniels, Val Deschene, Grace Otto, Nathan Anderson, Logan Froemming, Dierk Goeden, Ryland Yeats; EIGHTH-GRADE - Kaleb Burkey-Reque, Micah Fossell, Logan Haburn, Katie Anderson, Skylar Bitzan, Naomi Fournier, Kiatta Korkowski; SEVENTH GRADE - Micah Fuller, Hunter Hanstad, Justin Lederman, Donell Lee, Gavin Nicholas, Karlee Baumann, Courtney Brethorst