Rebel girls gunning for sixth straight NW track title

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Last spring, the Sioux Central girls track and field team won its sixth consecutive Northwest Conference title.

But that wasn't the whole story in what was a record-breaking season. The Rebels won all 11 invitational meets that they competed in, including the conference meet and the school's first ever district meet championship.

"I'm not sure we will ever be able to to top last year," said coach Ken Rachuy. "But I know our girls will go out and give their best effort."

Lost to graduation last spring were some talented athletes, including sprinters Kayla Bright, Nicole Scheiber and Jen Haraldson. Also lost was 100 and 400 hurdler Abbey Biedenfeld.

That doesn't mean Sioux Central won't be talented this year, and they still look like the favorite for their sixth straight conference title.

"We won't have the depth that we had last year," Rachuy said. "But with our returnees, we should have adequate depth."

Sioux Central returns six state meet qualifiers from last year, including junior Briana Scharn, senior Samantha Halverson, sophomore Trish Hogrefe, seniors Brooke Loving and Nicole Lindquist and junior Shana Hamilton.

In 2005, Scharn was a state qualifier in the 4x800 relay and the 400 meter hurdles. She finished tenth at state in that event last year.

Halverson is a three-time state qualifier in the discus, and last year, she took fifth at state.

Hogrefe was a state qualifier on the Rebels' 4x200 relay that placed ninth at state. She also took 12th at state in the 100 meter dash.

Loving was a member of the Rebels' 4x200 relay, while Lindquist was on the state-qualifying 4x800 team last season. Hamilton was the Rebels' top 800 runner last year, when she was a state qualifier in the 4x800 relay and the open 800.

"We lost some seniors who will be hard to replace," Rachuy said. "An area we'll try to improve on is the field events. We were able to replace only four of eight spots in the conference meet last year."

Rachuy added that the team returns a solid corps of sprinters, including Leah Whittenberg, Christina Blomgren, Beth Ehlers, Kelsea Culp, Cassie Moens and Stephanie Thompson.

Also returning are a talented group of middle distance and distance runners. They include Caitlin Patten, Rachel Henningsen, Jessica Rix, Melanie Richter and Steph Rushton. Discus and shot thrower Jessica Skelton is also returning.

Rachuy added that his team has 12 newcomers to the team, including freshman but also a few juniors and seniors.

He said that his team has a nice group of sprinters and hurdlers.

"We have 10 girls consistently working on the hurdles in practice, with Tricia Hogrefe leading the group along with senior newcomer Chelsea Winterboer," Rachuy said.

In the conference meet last year, Bright and Hogrefe finished 1-2 in the 100 and 200 meter dashes in both the conference and district meets.

Three of the Rebels' four runners in the 4x800 return, and they have two 3,000 meter runners back who placed in the conference meet.

"We aren't sure how our distance runners will fit together yet," Rachuy said. "We'll try some different combinations, but we have a good solid group to work with."

Scharn and Halverson will pace the Rebels in the field events, with Scharn in the long jump and Halverson in the discus.

"We have been working hard at getting our girls going again in the high jump, an area we hope to do better in this year," Rachuy said.

"Most of all, we need to keep our key people healthy and injury-free because we don't have the depth we had last year," he said.

"I really believe that if we can get all of our kids to reach their maximum potential, we have the ability to have another good year."

The coach added that his team's first goal is to win the conference title.

"We know we'll be challenged by some good teams," Rachuy said. "I expect Alta to be very good with (Dee) Hinkeldey having a fabulous season last year. Alta also has other good runners."

He added that Newell-Fonda will be in the mix as well as Storm Lake-St. Mary's.

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