Winter sports previews for basketball, hockey, wrestling and dance team for the Rogers Royals are presented here. Girls hockey season has already started.
The Royals, 19-9 last year, have just one starter back but he should be a force — 6-foot-8 Michael Schreiber, who averaged 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds, and has signed with Northern State. Other lettermen are Josh Turnquist (sr F) and Austin Barbeln (sr G). “We have a strong group of seniors anxious to build on the success of he program,” said coach Joe Belka. Other seniors are guards Jack Anderson and Chase Cleveland, and forwards Nick Runge and Garrett Hol. Top juniors are guard Cullen Loughlin and forward Sam Spilles. “This team will be very well balanced,” said Belka. “We have some size inside but also players capable of stretching the defense and knocking down the outside shot. ” He said he expects another team stout on defense and unselfish on offense. “We will play our most competitive schedule ever,” Belka added, “and we need to be ready to play each and every night.”
Two solid seniors and a host of younger players with minimal varsity action will take the court for the Royals, who were 15-15 last year but went to state by winning a mediocre section. Veterans are fourth-year guard Emily Reichert (9.6 ppg) and forward Jordyn Motter (10.4 ppg). “We have several underclassmen competing for spots,” said coach Jeremy Digiovann, adding that the “spirited battles” will make decisions tough. Competing are Shelby Darr (jr G), Megan Dobberstein (jr F), Kelsey Frain (jr F), Kristen Heikkinen (jr G), Courtney McClay (jr G), Rachael Sharp (jr G), and Lindsay Dorr (so C). The Royals will continue to focus on gritty defense and hope to rebound better. “Once again we have good speed throughout,” said the coach, “but we are also taller than in recent seasons.” Digiovanni is assisted by Dave Lindquist (varsity), Katie Kolles (JV), Danni Hannon (9th).
Seniors Nandu Ganesh, Arista Metz, and Haley Von Bonk are captains of the Rogers Dance Team, which won conference and went to “state” last year in both jazz and high-kick. The RDT has a new challenge this year. “We have been moved up to the AAA class, so we are working extra hard,” said coach Megan David. “It will be a whole new experience and whole new challenge for us, but we are excited.” Also back are seniors are Tolu Odunusi and Stefanie Ziebell; juniors Kayla Feiber, Nicole Fricke, Chelsey Hermann, Kalli Larrabee, Melanie Long, Syd Schultz, and Devyn Tostenson; sophomore Jill Brinkman and freshman Jackie Dietl. Stepping into the lineups are sophs Madi Nelson, Kate Reinert and Alyssa Klenotich, and freshmen Ali Getz, Megan Ibe, and Heather Kilber. David is assisted by Meg Leonard and Ashley Hermann.
The Royals under coach Tim Marchand are poised for a strong season with most of the firepower back from a 22-9, conference champion and section runner-up team. Returning all-Mississippi 8 picks are forwards Bryan Jungels (team MVP with 14 goals, 24 assists, 38 points), Neal Smith (11-16-27), and Zach Hnath (13-15-28); defender Jake Einarson (4-13-17) and goalie Robby Vukelich (.920 save percentage). Honorable mentions back are Matt Weber (D), Andrew Smith (F) and Keaton Mumm (G). All eight are seniors.
Rogers has had low numbers in wrestling in recent years, which continues this year under a new head coach, Chris Donnay. “Rogers has always had good wrestlers but the numbers just haven’t been there,” said Donnay, former Elk wrestler and Elk and Rogers assistant coach. “Our main goal is to get the numbers up so we could build some competition in our room. Right now we have over 20 guys in the room, which is a good start.” There’s just one senior, Michael Vorhees (16-17 last year) at 145. Clay LeVasseur, a football and wrestling standout, has to sit out his senior year due to a shoulder injury. “Losing Clay really hurts, especially when it comes to leadership,” said Donnay. Other starters back are state entrant Kyler Swanson (23-18) at 138, a junior; and sophomores Kyle Yestoboe (20-7) at 106-13, Connor Larson (20-13) at 120-26, and Phillip Anderson (25-10) at 132).
Likely to step into the lineup are junior Gabe Martinez and sophs Tyler Eicher and Steffan Paige and there’ll be newcomers at some slots. Donnay’s staff includes his brother Ryan, Rob Lehman, Jake Kolar, and Justin Oie.