Sports Roundup: Teams prep for fall seasonWith a top tier diver at the helm once again, and some veteran talent returning, the Agates swim team will be a team to beat.
By: Matt Suoja and Steve Gow, Lake County News Chronicle
Two Harbors swimming
With a top tier diver at the helm once again, and some veteran talent returning, the Agates swim team will be a team to beat.
“I believe that our team will be successful in 2010 because of the depth of talent we have on our team,” said head coach Tara Kasell, who has been coaching the team for six seasons. “Every single swimmer does well in her event which contributes to the overall score. We also have a large group of seventh graders coming into the JV team that have participated in our offseason swimming programs. All show strong potential as swimmers and divers.”
Among the top returners include junior MVP and two-time state diving participant Rebecca Ronning, senior captains Heather Fynboh and Sara Shepersky along with junior captain Emily Riemer. Also returning will be junior, Brooke Fletcher who placed fourth at sections in the 500-freestyle and eighth in the 200-free. Jennie Dwyer will be returning as a junior this season placing seventh at sections last year in the 500-free.
Kasell said the team’s record improved every meet last year and the team had some big wins against Mesabi East, Cloquet, and at a three-team meet against Babbitt and Chisholm.
The team lost captains Andi Dahlgren and Rachel Spies to graduation.
Kasell will be assisted by diving coach Kathy Ronning and junior varsity coach Heather Oberg.
“Our numbers continue to grow as more girls are getting involved and that has been a huge accomplishment for us as a coaching staff,” Kasell said.
After the girls cross country team made it to state last year, optimism is high for the combined squad for Two Harbors-Cook County.
Head coach Chris Hegg, who’s in his 12th season with the team, said the girls team lost a number of key runners but have a three-year history of success and enough returning runners to go to state again.
“Our young boys are developing well together and have been successful for their age in each of the last three years,” he said. “They also had a very good track season.”
The top returner from Two Harbors for the girls team will be senior Anna Schield. She was named to the All-Conference Team last year and was No. 23 of 100 at the Section 7A meet and competed at state. One of the top Two Harbors boys will be senior Josh Ensign.
They will try to make up for the loss of Two Harbors runners Sonja Peterson, Mercedes Leininger, Amber Fletcher, and Leif Gilsvik.
Hegg said if the five returning varsity girls all return in good shape, they should be a contender to go to state again. He said the boys are young and very deep and hopes they will steadily improve.
Volunteer Beth Schield of Two Harbors will be coaching runners in the area.
Two Harbors boys soccer
A new face will lead the Agates boys soccer charge this season – David Lukkonen.
In his first year as head coach, he said his main goal is to field a competitive team and believes they will be because they play smart with an attention to defense.
“It’s time to start building a team with traditions,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and we are going to have a lot of fun getting there.”
The team finished 5-11 last year with an opening round playoff loss.
Leading the way this season will be seniors sweeper Paul Sonday, forward Caleb Hamp-Sill, utility player Aaron Holbeck, and midfielder Alex Horoshak. They will be replacing a tough group of seniors in center/midfielder Jon Nevala-Plagemann and goalie Andrew Kragseth. Lukkonen said Horoshak will need to fill Nevala-Plagemann’s distribution role.
Lukkonen said some of the measuring stick games for the team will be against Hibbing and Proctor late in the season.
Lukkonen will be assisted by Ben Tietge and Nick Holappa.
Two Harbors girls soccer
After having a disappointing season last year, head coach Jeff Peterson is hoping the team lives up to expectations this year.
He said team didn’t achieve what it was supposed to last season, getting ousted in the section quarterfinals.
Captains returning include seniors defenders Katelyn Adams, Nina Bukowski, and Maire McMahon. Junior captain Ivie Brooks (striker and midfielder) will also help lead the team.
Other seniors on the team include midfielders Marissa Engelson, Kalina Pavlisich, Emily Zeimet (also a striker), and Katie Burns. Juniors include scoring leader and striker/midfielder Lacey Myrdal, goalie Lucy Bukowski, and defender/midfielder Maddie Wielinski.
“They have to really stay positive,” Peterson said. He said the team atmosphere has been good so far and they are working hard on fundamentals.
The team will have a tough schedule once again playing Osseo, Apple Valley, Chisago Lakes, Academy of Holy Angels, and Duluth East – some of them are projected to be in the top 10 in the state.
Peterson said the program has nine new players, which should bode well for the future of Agates girls soccer.
Peterson will be assisted by Joe Tietge and Brice Hansen.
Two Harbors volleyball
The Agates will try to turn things around this year after a first round playoff exit with a new head coach – Brooke Chaffee.
Chaffee, who has been coaching the girls basketball team since 2007, said it is difficult coming in and making assessments and preparations for games after a week of practice, but does see potential in the team.
“I think the chemistry is great, and if we work hard and keep a positive attitude it should be a really fun season,” she said.
Among the top returners are junior setters Sasha Fjeran and Kaley Peterson. Senior defensive specialist and outside hitter Sarah Stark and junior outside hitter Madison Olson also look to make a mark this season. They will try and make up for a solid group of seniors who graduated last year, including Abby Ray who led the team in kills and hitting percentage.
“I think these girls are tired of losing, and their hard work in preseason has shown me that they are willing to work to improve,” Chaffee said. “We have some solid returning starters and a good base, and it will be important for us to build up around that base to create a well-rounded team on the floor. I am excited to see them develop as we begin our regular season.”
She said she wasn’t sure what to expect from other teams, but has high hopes for her group.
“I think if we can be scrappy and really work hard in games it can take our team a long way,” Chaffee said. “Serve, receive and passing will be a big factor in our success this year, and is something we are going to focus on in these first few weeks.”
Chaffee will be assisted by Christy Peterson.
Silver Bay volleyball
The Mariners have a new coach – sort of.
Tom Frericks will be returning to the sidelines once again after taking a one-year hiatus. Andrea McMillen, who coached the team last year, will return as an assistant.
Top returners this year include seniors defensive specialist Katie Geissler and outside hitter Nikki Babbitt. Juniors, middle hitter Marina Carter and outside hitters Taylor Guzzo and Shay Viola will also come back. The team will be playing without star Kirstin Sandstrom, along with Katrina Davis, Jessica Solberg, and Stevi Rannetsberger because of graduation.
“My expectations are pretty wide open,” Frericks said. “We will see how much we can get done in the first few weeks.”
He said they will win because of the team’s good work ethic and athletic ability.
Frericks said some key matches this season will be against Cook County Sept. 7 and Oct. 5.
Two Harbors football
After getting blown out in the quarterfinals last year against Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, the Agates football team has hopes for a stronger finish.
Head coach Tom Nelson said the team does have some question marks at a few positions, but overall, he likes “the hand they were dealt.”
Among the 42 athletes coming out this year, include senior captains Willie Larson (OL/DL) and Justin Torgerson (RB/LB). Other returning seniors include Jon McDannold (QB/DB), Adam Martin (OL/LB), Gage Matlock (OL/LB), Nick Hudson (OL/DL), Jake Iskat (TE/DE), Steve Graton (TE/DL), and Drew Fleck (RB/LB). They will try and make up for the loss of quarterback Scott Comrie and running back Ryan Guentzel who graduated.
“There’s no exceptional ‘superstar,’” Nelson said. “It really, truly is a team. We have a long way to go. The kids have a great attitude. We need to find a little bit of edge to us.”
Some players decided not to come out this season, but Nelson isn’t worried. “It’s too bad. We worry about who we have – not who we don’t have.”
Nelson said he wants the team to have a “fighting mentality” to help reverse some trends from last year. He said the team had a problem with turnovers and controlling the ball.
“Our strength could be our offensive line,” he said. “We have a potential to have a solid defense.”
Question marks do remain in the defensive backfield, Nelson said.
Among those helping coach the team this year include defensive coordinator Matt Peterson, special teams coach Steve Wasko, offensive and defensive line coaches Derrick Hietala and Rick Hogenson Sr., defensive and running backs coach Roy Levitt, tight end and defensive back coach John Peterson, running back and linebacker coach Travis Mettner, and special assistant Todd Beck.
Helping the junior varsity team will be Justin Voss, Ryan McIntyre, and Ron Fransen. Casey Hyopponen and Logan Gow will be helping the Pony League team. If you are interested in helping coach Pony League, call Nelson at 834-4745.
Note: The Silver Bay varsity football preview will appear in next week’s News-Chronicle.