MONROE — With seven state qualifiers back, Prairie City-Monroe’s girls have a solid nucleus for the track team while the Mustang boys’ track team is under the guidance of a new head coach. The PCM girls’ golf team has three returners and one newcomer for 2014.
The Mustang track teams kick off the 2014 outdoor season this week. The girls ware at Albia Tuesday and boys open at Roland-Story Friday, April 4. Both squads go to North Polk Tuesday, April 8.
Seniors Cassidy and Kelsey Van Veen lead the Mustang girls’ golf team. Both girls were letter winners a year ago. Sophomore Abby Van Haaften was a new golfer last year. They are joined by freshman Breanna Maher.
“All of the girls have some previous golf experience, so that is a big asset to our team,” said Val Edwards, PCM golf coach. “This group is very competitive, which will help us as the season progresses. We’re hoping the weather starts to cooperate to get in some quality practice rounds before our first meet.”
Edwards said she expects the Van Veen sisters to be the top two golfers for the team with their experience. Van Haaften has a year of experience and Edwards looks for good scores from Van Haaften.
“Breanna comes in with quite a bit of experience, having played with her dad and older brothers, PCM grads Brady and Brooke Maher,” Edwards said. “Our goal is to repeat as Heart of Iowa Conference champions, break our 9-hole and 18-hole records again and get to the state golf meet. These are lofty goals, but these four girls work hard and I expect them to step up to the challenge.”
The Mustang girls open in their home course Tuesday, April 8, at Gateway Recreation in Monroe. Edwards said the team will travel to a couple of new courses this season in Edmundson, Oskaloosa and Cedar Point in Boone for the conference meet.
“Seven of our 12 meets are 18-hole meets. I’m looking forward to a fun and competitive season with this group of girls and a new assistant coach, Brad Hill,” said Edwards, who is in her 15th year with the PCM golf program and her fifth year as head coach.
Eric Karr takes over the reins of the PCM boys’ track team. Karr finished his second season as PCM’s head cross country coach in the fall. Karr was a national qualifier as a runner for Simpson College.
“This season is all about building the program with tons of teaching how to run, jump, and throw,” Karr said. “I’m trying to instill my passion for the sport in them. They graduated two state qualifiers and we don’t have any state meet experience back on the team this season.”
Karr is assisted by Joel Grier, who was the longtime PCM girls coach. Grier works mainly with the throwers on the team.
Seniors Matt Chizek, Glenn Gillespie, Zach Uhlenhopp and Troy Vittetoe return. Chizek comes off a strong cross country season to lead the distance runners in the 800 and 1,600 meter races. Uhlenhopp and Vittetoe are expected to contribute on the track in the 200, 400 and 800-meter races. Gillespie competes in the shot put and discus along with juniors Jordan Knowles and Connor Warrick.
Other juniors are Hayes Applegate, Skyler Koder, Ronnie Marshall, Maverick McAtee, Ricky Reeve, Keith Sutton, and Tyler Townsend. Sophomores on the team are Gunnar Davis, Tyler Dredge, Tyler Foster, Logan Gilman, Trent Howard, Austin Sneller, and Andreas Vargas. Freshmen on the team are Mark Bruxvoort, Chris Ellens, Luke Greiner, Chase Kuecker, Leevi Telfer, and Ethan Webb.
“It’s looking like the 400, 800, and 1600 may score us some points. Throwers and jumpers are getting better, and I expect some points from them, too,” Karr said. “My only concern is the low number of students out for track. It’s going to take some time, but this program will be successful.”
The Mustang girls are loaded for bear under second-year head coach Bridget Martin. PCM qualified for nine events at the state meet and seven girls from that group are back for the 2014 season.
“We are very excited about the upcoming season. We have a great balance of sprints, distance, and field events this year. The experience our upperclassmen bring to this team has been very beneficial for our newcomers,” Martin said. “We have had a lot of our upperclassmen step up and be great positive leaders for the team.”
Heart of Iowa Conference champions returning for the PCM girls are seniors Abbi Gilson in the discus and Lexi Kain in the 400-meter dash and junior Rachel Peter in the 800-meter run. Gilson was the conference runner-up in the shot put.
Gilson qualified for the state track meet in shot put and discus while Gilson went in the 400, the 400-meter hurdles and as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team. Peter went to state in the 1,500 and 3,000 meter races.
The Mustangs return their state-qualifying 4x200-meter relay team of juniors Mackenzie Clarke and Courtney Van Houweling and sophomores Emily Hugen and Ashley Van Gorp. Clarke and Hugen were on the 4x100-meter relay team with Kain. Van Houweling and Van Gorp went to state on the 4x400-meter relay team.
Martin said freshman Rachel Stafford qualified for state in cross country in this past fall, and hoping Stafford will make an impact in the distance races. Junior Rachel Gulling is a newcomer, who is expected to contribute in the hurdles and short sprints. Martin said the freshman class as a whole is very talented in both the sprint and distance events, and will be contributors for the Mustangs right away.
“Our team dynamics and atmosphere has been very impressive. The girls have done a nice job staying positive and working together as a team through tough workouts. We are really focusing on the big meets in May this year (conference, districts, and state). The Heart of Iowa conference is a tough one in track and field, and we are hoping to do some big things at this year’s conference meet. As always, we will be taking things one meet at a time; hoping to continue to improve at each meet,” Martin said.
Other members of the team are juniors Grace Telfer and Kenzie Clarke; sophomores Morgan Novak and Kiara Kapplemann; and freshmen Jayci Vos, Tatum Schnug, Katie Vande Wall, Kaylee Townsend, Sierra Litrrell, Kayla Jennings, Mallery Downey and Taylor Burns.
(Editor’s Note: the PCM boys’ golf team and the PCM soccer teams will be previewed later.)