By Pat Garry 

Area High School Teams Are Eager For 2024 Spring Season

 

March 30, 2024



Submitted by Pat Garry, Sports Writer

The long-awaited and much-anticipated thaw is looming, and area high school student athletes are chomping at the bit to get the spring season rolling. Coaches are optimistic and look forward to successful journeys in 2024.

Roseau Softball

The Roseau softball season is underway, and the Rams are looking to build off of their strong 2023 season. Last year, the Rams went 15-8, losing to TRF and Park Rapids in their section play. Although graduating All Conference/All Section SS/P Rebecca Wensloff, the Lady Rams bring back a crop of talented young players. On the offensive side, Payton Remick led the way for the Rams last season, with a batting average of .450 and an OBP of .494, with adding 27 RBI. In addition to Remick, Kayla Moser, Olivia Simmons, and Chavelle Knochenmus should help lengthen the Rams’ line-up this season. “Putting the ball in play any way we can will be crucial. Once on the base paths, we will be aggressive. Speed is our weapon. We hope to run the bases aggressively and effectively to produce runs,” said Head Coach Teresa Hulst. The Lady Rams return two of their three pitchers from last season and will look to build on their success. Sophomore Brooklyn Hulst pitched to a 3.18 ERA across 77 innings last year, getting the team out of some tough jams and minimizing innings. Left-handed freshman pitcher Ana Wensloff, made her Varsity debut last season, pitching 10 innings for the Rams and allowing just one run to score. Also, coach is looking for big things from freshman Clara Baumgartner and Alyssa Hedlund in the circle this season. Behind every good pitcher, is an even better catcher. Marissa Glodowski has taken on the role of the field general and will sacrifice anything for an out. She is tough and shows true grit and leadership behind the plate. Around the infield, the Rams will look to a variety of starting candidates that include Payton Remick, Kylie Bjerk, Ella Ketring, Makena Hedlund, Megan Mooney and Kayla Moser. Rams speed will also come into play in the outfield.  The outfielders include Grace Otto, Launa Ullman, Chavelle Knochenmus, Olivia Simmons, Brooklyn Hulst, Ana Wensloff and Reygan McCanna. “We are going to have a fast outfield with players capable of running down fly balls hit into the gaps. I believe defense and pitching will be key strengths to this team,” Coach Hulst added.

The Rams return a veteran coaching staff. Beginning her 10th season, Rams are coached by Head Coach Teresa Hulst. Assistant coach and recent baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Tracey Wensloff.  Starting her 7th season with the Rams as JV coach, Rachel Kendall. The highly experienced 27-year veteran Jr. High coach, Jay Ostgaard, along with Brittany Larsen, returning for her 2nd season. The Rams will open their season on April 8 versus TRF Prowlers, at home.

Roseau Baseball

The 2024 Roseau Rams baseball team is primed and ready to get out for competition as soon as possible. After a mild winter, the team is hopeful for a temperate spring, avoiding the indoor grind of 7-9 weeks, which has been the case since ‘21. The team this year is junior heavy, leaning on eight players that could have a profound impact on the season. That said, the two seniors (Alex Ballard and Cody Otto) plan to lead the charge, as a relatively young squad tries to navigate its way through Section 8AA play. Gavin Jensen (senior) was also ear-marked to play a large role on the mound, in the field, and at the plate for the Rams, but is sidelined after a season-ending injury in hockey. Hopefully Gavin is able to help out late in the season or playoffs, but nothing is guaranteed on his road to recovery. As things sit, the Rams look to retool their entire infield with a new committee of untested juniors and sophomores, a veteran outfield of Otto, Ballard, AJ Klint, and Eli Wensloff, a battle-tested pitching staff of Otto, Klint, Wensloff, Trey Mertens, and seasoned catchers in Chase Bachleitner and Wensloff. Offensively, the Rams look to find ways to manufacture runs after losing All-Section seniors Aaron Wensloff (UMC-All State), Cooper Flaig (Itasca), and Tanner George, who contributed 13 home runs and 78 RBI in ‘23. Coach Josh Weckman stated, “The ‘24 Rams will have to find ways to manufacture runs. It is almost impossible to duplicate the power numbers and run production from the three All-section players from a year ago, however the new crop of players are up for the challenge. The line-up this year will lean on a more gritty approach at the plate, grinding through at-bats, flooding the bases with runners, bunting, and utilizing situational hitting.”  

Head coach Weckman is currently in his 20th season coaching baseball and 4th as a Roseau head coach. During his tenure, the Rams are 53-23 (.697), with an 8AA title and State Runner-up finish in 2022. When Coach Weckman was asked how the program continues to be successful, he overwhelmingly credited his predecessor, Tracey Wensloff, for laying the groundwork, and then his support staff for their unrivaled experience and ability. “The Roseau baseball program is extremely fortunate to have their coaching staff! It is a staff whose playing and coaching experiences have evolved over the years, and in my opinion, is one of the finest baseball staffs in all of Minnesota…bar none!” exclaimed Weckman. “We have guys (coaches Todd Wensloff, Nate Voll, Alex Quinones, Tanner Landman, and Skyler Forst) who all played college baseball), Todd, Nate, and Tanner were all head coaches, and then you throw in staples like Troy Borgen, Tyler Landman, and Matt Heddan in our junior high program….wow do I feel fortunate, and so should our community!” 

Wins and losses are not everything that drive the baseball program either. Coach Weckman and his staff believe in specific pillars necessary for success. These include: academics, a sense of community, volunteerism, hard work, accountability, and above all else, character. They are thankful for the players, coaches, volunteers, and families that built the Roseau baseball program and look forward to the challenge of helping young men navigate their way into adulthood. “We look forward to the spring season and taking in games at beautiful Gilbertson Field this spring!”—Coach Weckman

Roseau Girls Golf

Roseau Rams ladies golf is just underway, with its first official indoor practice of the season held this last week. “We have 23 girls out, grades 7-12, and I hope for another great season,” said Head Coach Christine Reese. The team will be led by captains Sam Peterson and Erin Brandt. Returning letter winners that coach hopes to see consistent scores from, are Addy Johnson and Maryn Byfuglien, as well as several other Border Conference players from last year. The Rams play in the North Fore Conference, along with Thief River, East Grand Forks and Crookston. Roseau is coached by Christine Reese, Zach Manka and Shelly LaPlante. “Since it was a mild winter with less snow, we are hopeful for an early spring, where we can get in lots of meets. Until then, pray for sunshine,” Coach Reese urged.

Roseau Co-Ed Track and Field

The Roseau track and field coaching staff is the same staff it has been for a while now: Kenneth Hayden (Head Coach), Randy Nelson (Assistant Coach) Clearbrook graduate. Randy is also the Rams head Cross Country coach, Katie Laugen (Jr. High Coach) Ashby graduate. Lief Eidsmoe (Jr. High Coach), Roseau graduate. The team continues to be competitive in the section. Look for section contenders on the boys side with Gunnar Lund in the hurdles and high jump, Jake Borowicz in the throwing events, Logan Koubandonh at triple jump and hurdles, and Van Munstenteiger in distance races. Lily Gordon in the jumping events and a number of younger runners on the girls side will continue to pace the way in relays! Rams will look to have three indoor meets this season, one at Bemidji State and two at UND. True team will be hosted at International Falls; Sub Sections will be hosted in Baudette; Sections will be hosted in DGF.

Roseau Boys Golf

The Roseau boys golf team is looking to get back to state for the 4th straight year. Experienced seniors include: Brydan Thingvold, Sawyer Ginther, Jake Kveen, Blake Rylock, James Jacques and Austin Hagen. Experienced juniors are Cole Ginther, and Abraham Hinson. A total of 45 boys are participating this year for Coach Mike Lundbohm’s program.

Warroad Baseball

The Warroad baseball team is coming off an 8-10 season in 2023. Warroad returns seven starters from last year’s team, including Jacob McFarlane, Casen Pietruszewski, and Liam Grover, who will all be third-year starters for the Warriors. “We are counting on those three guys to have great years and be the leaders of this year’s team,” said Head Coach Scott Knutson. Ben Norris, Kannon Hoffman, Brock Thompson. and Ryan Chamernick, also return as starters for the Warriors. Last season, the Warroad boys struggled offensively, as the team average was .240. “We will spend a big part of the spring working on that part of our game. The strength of our team last year was pitching, and we return our top five starters from last year, so that is what we will be building our team on this year. We have high expectations for this year’s team,” Coach Knutson added.

Warroad Boys Track and Field

Vichita Ounchith is the Warroad boys track coach again this year. Assistant coaches are Mary Mohrbacher and, new this year is Courtney Gallagher. There are a lot of new faces this year and some familiar faces. “With that being said, we are looking for our returning tracksters to improve on last season’s PRs, as we move toward sections. So far the energy and excitement has been great,” said Coach Ounchith.

Warroad Softball

Warroad softball will have an inexperienced squad as graduation took its toll. The Warriors graduated a strong shortstop, center fielder, and a pitcher who threw every game last year. The hope is to have a team committed to improvement every practice. The team does return some experience at 3rd, 2nd, and 1st base. However, they will have to fill a lot of positions, and some players will have to adjust to new positions for the benefit of the team. The pitching staff will be young as the crew will have no one older than a sophomore. The coaching staff will be Dick Merriman, head coach; Carrie Wallace, JV coach; and Mike Nordine, Cara Brekke, junior high coaches. “We have no juniors out for softball, but early sign up has just under 50 girls playing softball for the Warriors,” said Coach Merriman. 

The 2024 high school spring sports season promises to be a highly competitive and fun-filled experience for participants and fans alike. Full schedules are available on the individual school’s websites or by visiting the Minnesota State High School League website at http://www.mshsl.org. Good Luck, All!

 

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