NEW ULM The Minnesota Valley Lutheran boys and girls track and field teams are heading into the upcoming season with reason to believe it will be successful.
Lots of key athletes and most of the depth from last year return for the boys team, while the girls team will be reloading with talent after losing key members.
The upcoming season will be the first season that MVL will partner with New Ulm Cathedral for track and field.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Talia Otto and Matt Tessmer will be key runners for the Minnesota Valley Lutheran/Cathedral track team this season.
"We're happy to have (Cathedral) out here and we're happy to give them the opportunity to participate in track," MVL coach Rollin Timm said. "It's definitely going to make our team stronger, adding depth and some skilled athletes to all the positions for the guys and the girls."
As far as how the group is working together, Timm says things are going great.
"So far it's been working very well, the kids have been working hard together, cooperating, getting along well and it's been a good situation," Timm said.
By gaining athletes from Cathedral, MVL's depth grows even more, adding numerous athletes that will be able to contribute and help the teams be successful.
The girls lost several key athletes from a year ago, but will rely heavily on the distance runners such as Talia Otto. Otto helped the cross country team earn a conference title in the fall.
Otto will be teamed with Brianna Holtmeier, Cheyenne Bjorkland, Alexa Diersen and Monica Illikman to lead the distance runners.
While the team's strength is in distance running, the other events - especially in the field - are unknown at this point, but Timm points to the depth of the team to where those questions will be answered.
The girls team will be looking to finally knock off Sleepy Eye for the conference championship.
"We've been battling with Sleepy Eye the last couple of years," Timm said. "Hopefully this will be the year where we close the gap and maybe win the title."
In MVL's subsection will be Sleepy Eye and also a very big, deep Glencoe-Silver Lake team.
As for the boys team, sprinter Matt Tessmer returns in hopes of a return trip to the state tournament. Tessmer will team with fellow sprinters such as Adam Schnobrich and Tyler Franta to form a formidable trio of sprinters.
"Tessmer went to state in the 400 and is also very strong in the 100 and 200," Timm said. "We are fortunate to have Adam and Tyler from Cathedral, so there is good depth there."
The distance runners for the boys will also be a strength for MVL with such runners as Justin Steffl, Peter Finken and Brian Kokesch leading the way.
Timm lists hurdles, high jump, and pole vault as potential weaknesses for the boys team, but feels there is enough to repeat as conference champions.
"Our goal is to win the conference again and hopefully also do well in the team section meet and possibly qualify for state team meet," Timm said.
Timm lists Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop as another conference team to keep an eye on and lists GSL, Nicollet and Lake Crystal Area as top teams in the section.
Overall, the season looks promising for both squads, and improvement throughout the year will be vital for both teams.
"The main goal for both teams is to improve throughout the year, continue to get better and better each and every day," Timm said.