The Alexandria girls track and field program was less than two points away from winning its second team Class AA state title in four years last season.
The Cardinals have built a program that produces big results like that almost every season, and nothing was expected to change in 2020. Head coach Meghan Orgeman always focuses on building a strong culture first within her program, and results follow.
“This year we have one of our biggest teams to date and almost half of the athletes on our team are new,” Oregman said. “We have our biggest freshman class ever. This, paired with our outstanding senior leadership, is what made me so excited about this season.”
Orgeman said she rarely talks about championships heading into a season, and that wasn’t going to change this spring.
“My expectations were around helping track athletes become better versions of themselves through the sport of track and field,” she said. “Our theme this year was tied to an arrow. We continue to meet as a program to talk through our theme and how it relates to our current situation surrounding distance learning, track, and COVID-19.”
Orgeman said she is extremely proud of the whole coaching staff for Alexandria that has continued to connect virtually with kids and create voluntary training plans that athletes can complete at home if they choose to.
The Cardinals would have to replace some standout athletes if they have an opportunity to compete at all this year. Kaye Paschka was a podium finisher in three events (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, triple jump) at state last year, and McKenzie Duwenhoegger was second in the shot put and third in the discus. Both are part of a talented seniors class that graduated in 2019.
Alexandria has 16 seniors on the roster this year who were expected to help lead the way for this group. Thirteen juniors also add to a strong top two classes for Alexandria. They would be looked upon to help out a huge group of sophomores and freshmen that totals 61 athletes, along with eighth-grader Jaelyn Miller also being a key component on varsity.
“Our expectations have not changed for this young and talented team,” Orgeman said. “We will continue to grow through adversity and we welcome any opportunity available to gather back together and compete. Our athletes continue to attend our team meetings and take part in optional training plans. If we get the opportunity to compete, gratitude will be our focus. Results will be secondary.”
Like many area coaches, Orgeman misses the daily interaction of working with her athletes.
“In a lot of ways, this has been my most challenging season to coach,” Orgeman said. “I miss seeing my athletes' faces every day. I miss being next to them during the highs and lows of training. I miss the thrill of competition and what it teaches athletes. I miss the high fives, hugs, smiles, laughter, and tears.”
(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 ALEXANDRIA GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD
SENIORS - Kira Baerwalde, Amanda Bittmann, Heavyn Bordak, Caitlin Bright, Julia Brito, Sierra Cory, Summer Gerhardt, Carmen Krueger, Mya Lesnar, Bethany Miller, Cameo Neumann, Christina Palmer, Erika Roderick, Meg Shercliffe, Micah Summer, Carly Wiirre; JUNIORS - Rachel Boyden, Kamryn Coauette, Alexis Cole, Abby Dare, Taelor Dummer, Avery Granning, Kim Junker, Myah Kremer, Kelly Luce, Micaela Nelson, Whitly Netland, Grace Panther, Emma Reineke; SOPHOMORES - Greta Urke (team manager), Dulce Bakker, Emma Ecker, Lauren Englund, Ailynn Fettig, Amya Hagen, Ella Halvorson, Maria Irizar Elizari, Taylor Johnson, Abrianna Kangas, Sarah Kelley, Hailie Kent, Joanna Kietzmann, Lauren Krebs, Bria Luepke, Aleah Miller, Payton Olson, Sonja Schabel, Kaileigh Schneider, Kiara Sowada, Gabriella Staples, Mackenzie Thang, Gracie Uhde, Greta Urke; FRESHMEN - Lilly Arnquist, Emma Ballou, Amanda Bergerson, Teresa Bitzan, Makenna Botten, Kelly Boyden, Emmalee Bugher, Kya Christopherson, Anna Dare, Malena Davis, Alexia Eggebraaten, Grace Evink, Alisah Floding, Elena Fuglestad, Alaina Guenther, Hadyn Halverson, Emma Hochhalter, Lauren Huber, Taylor Huber, Giselle Jahner, Izabella Kent, Hailey Klimek, Olivia Knapper, Brynn Kosters, Amelia Lucken, Karli Mulville, Mariah Nelson, Madison O’Shea, Lily Pazdernik, Bailey Saar, Ella Sanden, Hannah Skillings, Ella Steussy, Sophia Vinje, Miah Wessel, Grace Wink, Aurora Wirth, Aleah Yettaw; EIGHTH-GRADE - Jaelyn Miller