High numbers out give Lakers all-important depth
There will be a schematic nightmare in store for the Detroit Lakes girls' track and field team's coaching staff for the 2010 season, but it's one of the best problems to have for the Lakers.
The DL girls' coaching staff -- led by head coach Mike Labine -- would have it no other way, as the Lakers boast an all-time high in numbers out with 65.
"I'm excited about it and it's awesome to have this many kids be a part of the team," Labine said. "It maybe a management nightmare, but it's something we'll definitely deal with."
Experience levels are all over the board for the Lakers, from experienced to green, from seventh grade to seniors.
"They don't all have the same ability and not all of them are in the same place now," Labine said. "We've got experienced athletes to new ones."
But with the high numbers, the older athletes are also helping get the Lakers back to where they once were -- winning Mid-State Conference titles and state True Team berths.
"We had won 16 Mid-State championships in a row before last year and were seven-time state True Team entrants," Labine said. "We had lost some of that (swagger) the last few years, but it looks like we are getting some of that back with this group."
Although the Lakers don't have that dominant athlete who can win events in every meet, they do have a solid upper echelon of athletes who can place high on a consistent basis.
Also with the high numbers out to add depth, the team aspect for the Lakers should be strong.
A big part of the team points will come from the Laker gymnastics team, which had another stellar winter season.
Junior Bre Halbur returns off an injury-plagued 2009 season and will anchor the long jump event and possibly help out in the hurdles.
Halbur won the tough Section 8-2A long jump title two years ago, while taking third last season, despite having a bad ankle.
"If Bre can stay healthy, she is a phenomenal athlete," Labine said.
"We don't know if she can hurdle yet, but she should be able to have a strong season in the long jump."
Gymnasts Amy Crawford, Jess Stelter, Natalie Hoffert and Kyley Foster also will play important roles on the team.
Stelter is DL's top hurdler and a strong jumper, while Crawford is the Lakers' best pole vaulter.
"Amy saw big success on pole vault at the end of last year and there's no question she's a great athlete," Labine said of Crawford, who won DL's first-ever gymnastics championship after taking the Class 1A beam title.
"Natalie Hoffert is one of our top sprinters, as well."
The Lakers also return senior Kayla Lang, who had a strong offseason working on the high jump.
"Every year, Kayla has been around the 4-10 to 5-0 range in the high jump and after how hard she worked this winter, I see her hitting that early on in the season," Labine said. "She can become a top-notch high jumper."
Senior Lauren Kauffman will also be a big factor in the high jump.
Senior Bethany Stoltenburg will anchor the throwing events, after learning under state qualifier Ally Nielsen from a year ago.
Junior Jen Matter will also join Stoltenburg in the disc and shot put after missing last season with a knee injury.
Freshman Rose Jackson emerged in the sprints for the Lakers last season and with a full season of experience, she should only be better this time around, Labine said.
In distance, sheer numbers will improve the 800 through 3,200 meter running events.
"Our quality is better than we've had in a long time on our distance crew," Labine said.
Junior Marie Yokan and Abby Ullyott each will lead the way in distance, with up to a dozen others filling in the rest of the slots.
"We have options now there and having that flexibility will only make the team better," the DL coach stated.
The expectations are higher for this year's squad, but the road is tougher to the state True Team, after 13-time section champion Sartell has been added to Section 8.
"We also have teams like Staples-Motley and East Grand Forks in there and these are not your one-and-done type of teams, they are traditionally good every year," Labine said. "And that's where we want to get back to."
The Lakers will not have any home meets, with the track at Mollberg Field soon to go under a complete renovation.
But with the new track, the Lakers will have a good possibility of hosting such larger events as the Section 8-2A preliminaries and finals and True Team events.
The Lakers also have a solid core of coaches, including Labine, Steve Zamzo (boys' head coach), John Freeman, Steve Kvebak, Lisa Conzemius, Maggie Doll, Ryan Zunich and Pete Paulson (the last three are all volunteers).
"It's huge to have all these coaches helping out, especially with the high number of kids out," Labine added.
DL will open its season Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Concordia College Time Trials.
Detroit Lakes girls' track and field 2010 schedule:
25 at Concordia Time Trials
6 at Bemidji
13 at Fergus Falls
16 at Moorhead
22 at Wadena
23 at Hamline Elite (must qualify)
30 at Brainerd
at Grand Rapids
6 at Pelican Rapids (JV)
11 Section True Team at Staples
18 Mid-State Conference meet at Park Rapids
22 True Team State at Stillwater
25 at Bemidji
2 Section prelims at Sauk Rapids
5 Section finals at Brainerd
11-12 State meet at Hamline University, St. Paul.