Elk River winter season previews for basketball, swimming, dance team and wrestling are presented here.
Three starting guards return from a small Elk team that went 7-20 last year and will be small again. They are seniors Tucker Morrell (top scorer back with 8.4 ppg) and Ryan Ness, and junior Porter Morrell. Other lettermen back are Landon Werner (sr G), Coleman Hayes (s P), Bryan Edwards (jr P), and Clay Elrod (so F). Also in the mix is Terry Hadden (jr G). “We will not be a very tall team,” said coach Randy Klasen. “We will have to learn to box-out and rebound well in order to get defensive stops.” Klasen added that the Elks will have to play well together and compete “with a great deal of intensity and passion.” Klasen is assisted by Aaron Osterman (JV), Brian Thompson (sophs), Ryan Servaty (9A), and Eric Ostmoe (9B).
The Elks, 16-12 last year, return three starters in senior post Victoria Jensen (9.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg), an all-NWSC pick; Jordyn Sohns (jr G, 7.8 ppg), and McKayla Macomber (sr F). Also in the mix are Candice Nemes (sr F), Dani Edwards (sr F), Michelle Botts (sr F), Dani Detloff (sr G), Annie Johnson (jr G), Holly Skalsky (jr H) and Shelby Gracik (soph G). “Victoria will be our go-to person,” said coach Reed Caouette, “but we’ll have balance and depth, and we have some good perimeter shooters. We have some newcomers who will help.” The staff includes Ryan Holmgren, Brian Steuter, Michelle Ryberge, Jenna Johnson and Mike Rahn.
Under new coach Alyssa Sha, the Elk River Dance Team will reorganize with 24 returning letterwinners. Senior captains are Sadie Martin and Stephanie Mathias. Sha said the focus will be on “becoming closer as a team and working to the best of our ability. “Other returning letterwinners are seniors Andrea Beidelman, Gretchen Brown, Karissa Cable, Jenna Murney, Vanessa Panchyshyn, Gabriela Rossi, Anna Wetherille, and Taryn Winter; juniors Marissa Alexy, Shyler Egan, Samantha Harris, Avery Person, Anna Ryan, Hailey Skog, and Carly Uphoff; and sophomores Kelsie Baker, Lyndee Chuba, Karissa DeMars, Courtney Jensen, Jadie Jopp, Marissa McDaniel, and Angela Paulson. Sha is assisted by Kasi Hellig. Alli Bieniek is JV coach assisted by Julianna Hansen.
The Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman-Spectrum squad returns four of their nine all-conference swimmers from a 6-2, conference runner-up team. That group includes a two-time state qualifier, junior Aaron Schwab (IM, backstroke), along with seniors Jacob Christy (freestyle), Andy Olson (distance) and Collin Krueger (distance). “We will not be as deep as last year, but we have returning state meet swimmers,” said coach Denise Eidem, noting that nine boys graduated. “We will have tougher meets because of (less) depth, but we hope for a big group of eight freshmen to step up.” Other lettermen back are seniors Mac Chamberlain (butterfly) and Trevor Springer (fly, breast); juniors Odrey Bechtel (free, back), Alex Kopp (IM, fly), Conner Swigard (free), and Derek Jacobson (free, breast); plus Andrew Bronshteyn (10th, diver), Nick Kopp (9th, back) and Spencer Hlavacheck (8th, back). The team will continue to split for post-season, and Rogers kids will be in the same section (8AA) as the Elks for the first time. Eidem, entering her 28th season, is assisted by Randy Doesken and Bret Beecher (diving).
The Elks, conference runners-up last year and co-champs the year before, would have had eight starters back, but two moved away and one didn’t come out. “That’ll hurt us,” said coach Paul Nelson. “But we have good numbers in the room, 35 to 40 kids.” Starters back from an 11-9 squad (8-1 conference) are seniors Abe Williams (20-14) at 182, Mitch Beaudry at 195, Jory Lubinsky (23-11)at 220, and Kyle Weimann (27-12) at 285, and junior Evan Caldon (23-10) at 126. Other lettermen back are junior William Hoff and sophomores Adam Peterson, John Reitter and Ryan Osberg. “We have a great nucleus of wrestlers,” said Nelson, “who will keep each other accountable and demonstrate to our underclassmen what kind of commitment and focus it takes to be successful at this sport.” Nelson is assisted by David Ahmed (varsity), Bryan Kulm (9th), Mike Dahlheimer, John Peterson, Tyler Hemmesh, and Brett Svendsen.
After two seasons blessed with prodigious talent, the Elk River/Rogers/Zimmerman gymnasts are back in “rebuilding” mode this year, said coach Jenn Bartlett. The Elks will still be competitive, led by all-conference seniors Alana Embury of Elk River and Leah Perrault of Rogers, the latter a state qualifier in beam (placing seventh) and all-around. “The leaders will be Leah and Alana, as captains and two of our highest-scoring gymnasts on all four events,” said Bartlett. “I also see our large junior class stepping up.” The Elks will split into not two but three teams this year. Rogers (twice Section 5AA champs) and Elk River will split again, and this year they’ll be in the same section (8AA) for the first time. Plus, the MSHSL says Zimmerman (four kids) must be separate, too, Bartlett reports. The full-squad Elks start the season with three straight NWSC titles and 23 straight dual meet wins. Other letterwinners back are juniors Kendra Hambleton, Courtney Bursch, Jessica Sadlowsky and Stephanie DeLong; sophomore Corryn Stelflug; and freshmen Katie Hartneck and Alyssa Walton. Bartlett expects junior Lindsey Koosman, sophomore Katie Fleck and eight-grader Krista Kovar to be factors as well. Floor should be a strong point with 12 of 18 girls doing twists in their routines. “I am excited to see where this team can go,” said Bartlett, 15th-year head coach whose staff includes Joleen Winkelman (second year) and new assistants Rick Michalak and Cate Fjerstad.