By PATRICK SLACK
With a strong stable of upperclassmen guiding them, the Pierz boys and girls track and field teams look to contend for Central Minnesota Conference (CMC) titles this spring.
“I think we have great senior leadership this year and I hope they will lead their respective teams to the goals we have set this year,” Pierz head coach Craig Johnshoy said.
The Pioneers girls have 10 seniors and the boys squad features nine, with 26 returning letter winners between them.
A year ago, the Pierz girls took third place at the CMC indoor meet and fourth outdoors, adding a fifth-place finish at the Section 7A true team meet. The Pioneers added a fifth-place finish at the Section 7A true team meet.
“I am hoping we can come back this year and compete for the conference title and have a strong showing in the true team section,” Johnshoy said. “I feel we are strong in the distance events and the jumps, plus we have some young runners that will help us.”
Seniors on this year’s team include Abby Cyr, Anya Dahmen, Mariah Hoheisel, Vivian Hyun Song, May Intharawongsak, Sara Jelinski, Lindsay Monson, Cassie Stangl, Tracy Wimmer and Olivia Zajac.
Returning letter winners are Cyr, Hoheisel, Jelinski, Monson, Stangl, Wimmer, Zajac, juniors Megan Hoheisel, Alyssa Boser and Tarynn Kasper, sophomores Bridget Bednar, Gabriella Kroska, Alex Lucken and Brittany Smieja and freshman Maggie Gruber.
The boys team is coming off of a fifth-place finish at the CMC indoor meet and took seventh in the outdoor event.
The Pioneers earned seventh at the Section 7A true team meet.
“The boys team lost some very talented seniors to graduation last year so we will be a young team, but I feel we will still have experience in almost all of the events,” Johnshoy said. “We need to stay healthy and our younger athletes have to be able to step up and fill some shoes.”
Pierz should be especially strong in middle distance and jumps, Johnshoy said.
Seniors on this year’s team include Ben Huffman, Caleb Janson, Alex Julich, Tyler Kieffer, Michael Marshik, Devaunte Stumpf, Nathan Tomala, Dustin Waytashek and Preston Weber.
Returning letter winners are Janson, Julich, Kieffer, Marshik, Stumpf, Weber, Tomala, Waytashek, junior Will Corbett, sophomore Tyler Millner and freshman Kyle Becker.
Pierz was scheduled to open its season with an indoor conference meet March 23.
The Pioneers’ first home meet is scheduled to take place April 5 against Pequot Lakes, Pillager, Osakis and Mora.