Zimmerman winter previews for basketball, dance team and wrestling are presented.
Lance Dalbey, former Monticello coach, takes over a struggling Thunder program (2-26 last year). On a young team with one senior, returning starters are Heather McCormick (jr W), Amber Magnussen (jr P), Nikki Jurik (fr G), and Jamie Schuster (so P). Also likely to play are Kayla Kiel (sr W), Melissa Dorn (jr G), Cassie Ortberg (jr G), Lexi Weimerl (jr W), Brooke Borchardt (so P), and Kaitlyn Mason (so G). “We have good size and we have some shooters,” said Dalbey. “Practices have been very competitive knowing that there is playing time at stake.” For the long climb ahead of them, Dalbey said he’s asking the girls to bring three things every day: “your best attitude, your best effort, and your best focus.” Assisting are Jolene Rademacher (JV), and Rich Bond (9th).
The two best players graduated from the Zimmerman team that went to state last year, but the Thunder played 11 guys and nine of them are back including eight seniors “Our team is very excited about getting back on the court after the season that we had last year,” said coach Ben Kvidt. “Guys have really been committed to putting in the effort in the offseason to improve and hopefully make a run in the playoffs.” Starters back are point guard Caleb Lunning (7.1 ppg, 4.4 apg), center Nate Christensen (6.1 ppg) and forward Ethan Lunning (5.7 ppg). Other lettermen back are centers Gavin Doppler (7.9 ppg) and Tony Obinger; guards Corey Foyt, Adam Fordahl, Kyle Connelly, and Brandon Smith; and forward Jake Wilson, the only junior in this group. “I expect us to be good at pushing the ball down the floor,” said Kvidt, “and also feel like we will be a better team defensively this year. ” The Thunder will try duplicate their football feat of winning the first title in the new Granite Ridge Conference. After that, they’ll take on Class 3A in post-season after moving up from 2A. It’s a small team except for 6-foot-6 Wilson, but a fast one. Kvidt is assisted by Larry Christensen (varsity), Kurran Sagan (JV) and Kevin Jost (9th).
Allie Kratzke and Melissa Burk are co-captains of the Zimmerman Dance Team that will be mostly girls in grades 8-9-10 this year. The Thunder have been placing second in the Mississippi 8 in recent years behind Rogers. “We are expecting to have a very successful season. We’re dancing to ‘Speechless’ for Jazz and ‘Queen’ for Kick,” said coach Jennessa Kraus. The squad has seniors Kratzke, Linnea Jabobson and Rachel Hodge; junior Burk; sophomores Anna Ruel, Carly Swan, Hadassah Early, Kali Walz, Kristen Connelly, MaKayla Luke, Markie Miller, Mikala Lowe, Rayann Gabrielson, and Sydney Lund; freshman Madalynn Rymer; and eighth-graders Alexa King, Bailey Bickford, Hannah Walz, Kasey Speller, Becca Waletzko, and Summer Peoples. Kraus is assisted by Jessie Kish and Kelsey Nelson.
Under a new coach, Jason Thompson, the Thunder will try improve on last year’s 7-15 season that included 1-6 in the power-packed Mississippi 8. It helps that the school is now in a new conference, the Granite Ridge. Top veterans are junior Mitch Robinson (31-5 at 189) and sophomore Hunter Smith (24-16 at 119), both state qualifiers. Other lettermen back are junior Kale Cowles (132), sophs Justin Viktora (106) and Alex Collins (145-52), and freshmen Austin May (145-52) and Justis Bjergo (138-45). Likely to step in are seniors Junior Patterson and Mitch Rymer. Thompson noted: “With the exception of Mitch and Jr. we don’t have a lot of bigger guys to fill the upper weights. Our lower to middle weights is where we will score a majority of our points.” He added: “I confident with the work ethic I’ve seen from the wrestlers, the support I’ve gotten from the parents, and the experience I have with my coaching staff that we have all the tools to be successful.” The staff includes Pat Burch, Aaron Fair ad Mark Lees.