By Pat Garry, Staff Writer
As fall activities wrap up, the winter sports season begins. Student athletes are chomping at the bit to get the competition under way, and coaches again look forward to successful journeys.
Kimball girls’ basketball
The Kimball girls’ basketball team looks to kickoff the 2019-2020 basketball season with their first day of practice on Monday, Nov. 11. Head Coach Jeremy Kuechle welcomes all of the returning players back, and also reminds students that anyone can be a part of the team; whether they have played a little, a lot, or have never played at all. There will be plenty of new faces on the Cubs’ team this year, as Kimball graduated four starters from last year’s team (Rachel Utecht, Sidney Schreiner, Ashley Schindele, and Erin O’Brien, along with reserve Holly Berscheid). Some of the returning players are senior guards Cailyn Kuechle, Bailee Schiefelbein, and Hailey Bue. Kimball returns two juniors, Gracelyn Powell and Madison Streit; and the sophomore class consists of Morgan Garding, Madelyn Hunt, Jaymee Randall, Madison Schmitz, and Ellie Schindele. This year’s freshman class boasts 19 players from last season, so there will be plenty of competition at multiple grade levels to form a C-squad, Junior Varsity, and Varsity team (7th and 8th graders are also welcome to try-out).
Kimball’s coaching staff consists of Varsity Coach Jeremy Kuechle (12th season), Joe -Stangle (8th season), and the team welcomes first-year C-squad coach, Stephanie Kenning.
“Every new season brings a different level of excitement and anticipation and, although this year our team will lack some of the seasoned Varsity experience, we do have a few girls with a taste of Varsity minutes and many girls that have logged a lot of game play on JV and C-squad teams who are hungry to move up the ranks. I look forward to the player development, putting the players in positions where they can be confident, and forming a team environment that can be successful. I Invite you to come and watch our teams compete (and cheer loudly!) starting with our first game at home versus the ACGC Falcons on Friday, Nov. 22,” said Coach Jeremy Kuechle.
EV-W girls’ basketball
The Eden Valley-Watkins girls’ basketball team is piloted by the highly successful Coach Tom Jansen. The girls are excited to get the season going and continue on their past success.
The Eagles have a slightly different look this year, after the 2019 graduation. They will play without three four-year starters from last season’s team: Olivia Schleper, Emma Schultz (who is now playing at Bethel), and Olivia Kuechle (who is rehabilitating a torn ACL).
“We will have to find ways to score and avoid foul trouble. Every season brings new challenges and opportunities, and our team is looking forward to those. We will have four, really quality seniors that will provide great leadership, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to be around them for the season,” Coach Jansen said.
Kimball boys’ basketball
The Kimball boys’ basketball team is returning letter-
winners seniors: Chase Gustafson, Brian Binsfeld, Noah Young; and junior Jack Knaus. This year’s roster includes seniors Gustafson, Binsfeld, Young, and Tyler Stang; juniors: Knaus, Riley Albers, Simon Stang, Hunter -Hickman, Logan Silbernagel, Matt Eich, and Carter Lyrek; sophomores: Ty Gustafson, Lucas Jansky, Gabe Becker, Gavin Loch, Jake -Spaulding, Skylor Gruba, and Jamison Tubridy.
This season’s conference favorite is Eden Valley-Watkins, and Melrose is favored to win the section.
“We will be very young and inexperienced this year. Last year’s team was very senior-dominated. We have some good talent, and the players should really battle hard for playing time. My hope is that we improve over the course of the season, so we are playing our best basketball at playoff time,” Coach Jay Klein commented.
EV-W boys’ basketball
Head Coach Adam Langer’s Eden Valley-Watkins boys’ basketball team comes off a last season’s 14-12 record and the Central Minnesota Conference title. Coach Langer has a career coaching record of 179-137, over a 12-year span. Assisting Adam are JV coach Jacob Anderson, and C-squad coach David Luhman. EV-W has eight letter-winners returning, and five letter-winners who have graduated.
“We hope to build on the experience we have returning from last season. We are returning our top three scorers from a year ago, in Joshua Streit (17.4 ppg), Luke Jansen (13.0 ppg), and Kobe Beattie (9 ppg). We need to focus our early season work on the defensive side of the floor. Our players will need to buy into our physical defensive philosophy in order to be successful this season. If this can happen, along with developing throughout the year as a team, we could be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time!” exclaimed a confident Coach Langer.
One of last year’s highlights includes Luke Jansen’s shooting prowess, breaking the school record for “3s” in a season, with 80.
After a highly successful inaugural season, Cubs’ head Varsity wrestling Coach David Joseph looks to continue the winning ways at Kimball. The Kimball Area High School wrestling team is hungry and ready to improve upon a successful 2018-19 campaign, which boasted the first winning record in five years for the squad. Last year, the Cubs took second place in the Section 4A tournament, and sent five individuals to the state tournament. They were named by “The Guillotine” wrestling publication as last years’ most improved team.
Kimball has put in a strong summer and fall of off-season work in the practice room and the weight room, and they expect to be a contender in the race for a CMC (conference) and a Section 4A championship.
The Cubs lost captains Michael Donnay and Zach Schiefelbein to graduation this year, in addition to seniors Josh Donnay and Marcellus Jensen. Juniors Zack Holtz and Alex Nelson, as well as sophomores Carter Holtz and Ashton Hanan, will be the captains of this “band of brothers” as the Cubs embark on a new season. All of them represented Kimball at the Xcel Center in the state tournament last year. Zack Holtz, the most decorated of the bunch thus far, will provide leadership on and off of the mat. Zack battled injury most of last year, but he faced adversity like a champion and finished the year off with a section 4A championship. Alex “Buttons” Nelson is a joy to watch compete. Last year, Alex upset the 2-seed Taylor Ludwig of Eden Valley-Watkins in the section tournament semi-finals to earn his first trip to the State Tournament. Carter Holtz quickly established himself as dominant force near the top of the Cubs’ line-up as he climbed up the rankings last year. Carter won a ninth grade league state championship and a section 4A championship at 195 lbs. Ashton “Shuggs” Hanan is really a special athlete. His grit and determination is second to none. Hanan is yet another Cub in this strong core that looks to improve upon his Section 4A championship and state entrant status from one year ago.
Aside from the four captains, Kimball will also return three additional state entrants to this years’ squad: junior Austin Donnay (gained experience in his first trip to the Xcel Energy Center as a state entrant), sophomore Lucas Jurek (finished off his freshman season with a state tournament berth), freshman Gavin Winter (a newcomer to the Kimball area; last season, he earned a AAA individual state tournament berth while wrestling for ROCORI). Other returning starters with Varsity experience include Jimmy Wicker, Brandon Guggisberg, Mitchel Loehrer, Cody Leither, Nick Bowen, Evan Nienaber, Ace Meyer, Chase Anderson, Jack Bollman, Caden Guggisberg, Brett Schiefelbein, William Serbus, Blake Brutger, and Haden Rosenow.
The coaching staff this year will look familiar. “It is a privilege to work with these guys who I am honored to call my friends. They are amazing wrestlers, teachers, and coaches, but they are even better young men that will set a positive example is wrestling and in life: Jordan Joseph, Quinten Berres, and Marcus Hamer. We are excited for a new season and new opportunities. Go Cubs!” exclaimed Coach Joseph.
Coming off a winning season for the first time since 2010-11 season, at 13-10, the Eagles look to have another winning season.
“Even though we had no individuals make the state tournament, it was a great year to be able to compete and win duals,” Head Coach Dan Berg said.
EV-W graduated three seniors: Trevyn Ludwig, Ethan Kay, and Peyton Thul. But the Eagles bring back a great deal of experience, namely senior Taylor Ludwig, a two-time state entrant, Zach Nistler, third last year in sections, and Connor Lincoln who is looking to have a breakout season. Two juniors, Carter Mathies and Hunter Schlangen, also return. Carter was a section place-winner the last two years, and Hunter is new to the program. There are 10 sophomores this season: Teagyn Ludwig, third in sections, Gavin Mathies, fourth in sections, Armando Walker, Austin Schlangen, section place-winner at
220 last year as a freshman, Nick Stetzel, Jackson Geislinger, Jared Carlson, Ian Nistler, Brandon Altenburg, and Rylan Schueller, section place-winner two years ago but was hurt before the finish of the season. Three freshmen join the squad: Gavin Caron, solid at 113 last season, Sam Nistler, a two-time section place-winner, and newcomer Luke Kipf. Eighth-graders Sonnie DeHeer and Isaac Ortiz will compete for a varsity spot as well. The seventh-graders are Treyce Ludwig, Brayden Kramer, Thomas Thompson, Jordan Erpelding,
Alex Bollin, and Mitchel Lipinski.
“We bring back a great deal of experience and look to surpass the 13 wins we had last year, but we need to stay healthy; that is the key word for a lot of teams,” Coach Berg commented.
Teams that will be tough competition in the conference are BBE, Kimball, Royalton, and HL-W-W.
“Our goal this year is to improve throughout the year and get the guys in the right weights to be able to compete. If we can do that, we can pass the 13 wins from last year and try and get a top-3 seed in sections and give ourselves a chance to make the section finals,” added Berg.
Jeff Forcier, Heath Kramer, and Joe Holdvogt will be on the coaching staff again this year. Stat girls this year are Adrienne Lipinski, Madelyn Ludwig, Kayla Schindler, and Zoey Schmidt.
The 2019-20 season promises to be a highly-competitive and fun-filled experience for participants and fans alike. Watch for a current schedule each week in the Tri-County News, and check for last-minute updates on each school’s website.