Numbers are good, but experience down for DL
It's a new situation for the Detroit Lakes girls' track and field coaching staff, but it's one which will be a joy to take on.
For the first time in quite some time, the once Laker strength of leadership, is now a little thin after last year's graduating class departed and a slew of injuries to upper-classmen have decimated DL's experienced tracksters.
"It's a different place we've been in for a long, long time," said DL head girls' coach Mike Labine. "The quality is no doubt there, but it's very young. There's lots of potential, but it's unproven."
Take for instance, last year's state 4x100 relay team for the Lakers. All four sprinters were due back this season, after a state meet in which they shattered the DLHS record and placed eighth in the Class 1A meet.
But Rose Jackson's family moved, Bre Halbur had reconstructive ankle surgery, Natalie Hoffert broke her leg in the first meet in gymnastics this year and Jess Stelter broke her toe during gymnastics, as well.
All were looked upon to provide valuable leadership to the host of younger athletes who are basically just cutting their teeth in track this year.
"We also lost Karli Kerzman to an ACL knee injury in basketball, so we lost up to 10 upper-classmen for this season," Labine said. "We still have good numbers in the lower classes, just a lot of inexperience."
But that won't discourage the Laker squad, as already plenty of eighth grade through sophomore girls are ready to produce.
"We are concerned with the athletes who are here," Labine said. "We have quality with our younger kids."
Stelter, Halbur and Hoffert can potentially return by the section meet, as well.
Junior Alexis Schermer will be heard from plenty, though, this season after a strong offseason, Labine said.
"She had probably one of the best offseasons anyone here has had in a long time," Labine added.
Schermer has already picked up where she left off last June in the high jump, after she hit for a 5-0 Saturday in the indoor Concordia College Invite.
She also went for a 29-11.5 in the triple jump and will also be a specialist in the relay events.
"She has a unique talent and will excel in jumps," Labine said.
Eighth grader Allison Berg also will be a solid contributor, with triple jump being a strong event for her after she was third Saturday with a 32-9.5.
Berg already knows what it's like to be thrusted to varsity after she filled in admirably during the gymnastics season.
"She is already a varsity athlete," Labine said.
Eighth grader Lindsey Heinecke made a splash last year in the sprints as a seventh grader and will be looked upon for improvement this year.
She was second in the 55-meter dash at 7.63 and third in the 200 dash with a time of 27.50.
"She's capable of being an elite runner and she's just an eighth grader," the DL coach stated. "We just need to be careful with her and not put too much pressure on her."
The distance crew will have strength in numbers, with eighth grader Abby Ullyott being one of the pack leaders after a solid cross country season.
Also adding to the Lakers' strong depth are freshman Mackenzie Foltz, sophomores Kiki Schumacher, Miranda Olson and a host of other younger runners who can make some noise in the 800 through 3,400 runs.
Eighth grader Shay Nielsen will be the leader in throws and has already showed vast improvement as a young thrower.
"She will be very good down the line," Labine said. "It's not going to be 'if', it's going to be 'when.'"
The Lakers' team goals will be different than years past, as the sites will be set on winning the Mid-State Conference meet.
DL also will host four meets, including the Section 8-2A True Team meet (May 10), the Section 8-2A preliminaries (June 1) and the Craig Fredrickson Invite (May 5).
The reason for all the home meets is the new track and field complex, which was constructed last fall.
Also added with be new hurdles, which was donated by Erin Seaworth-Briard, who purchased them for $10,000.
"We'll have first-class, collegiate hurdles on a brand new track," Labine included. "It should be pretty exciting for the kids."
Detroit Lakes girls' track and field 2011 schedule:
5 DL triangular 4 p.m.
12 at Fergus Falls 4 p.m.
15 at Moorhead 3 p.m.
26 at Brainerd 4 p.m.
29 at Hamline (must qualify)
5 DL Invite 3 p.m.
10 Section True Team at DL 1 p.m.
17 Mid-State meet at Staples-Motley
21 State True at Stillwater
23 at Bemidji 3 p.m.
1 Section prelims at DL 3 p.m.
3 Section finals at St. Cloud Apollo 11 a.m.
10-11 State meet at Hamline.