Luverne girls still chasing No. 1 goal

With the first month of the 2015 spring sports season nearly complete, something stands out in my mind.

The Luverne girls’ track team is living up to lofty expectations.

The Cardinals ran away with the team championships at the Cardinal Relays and the Worthington Invitational in their last two outings, and there is no reason to believe they won’t capture the team crown at the Arrow Relays in Pipestone Tuesday.

There is no question the team is meeting their preseason expectations.

The way they are getting the job done is what has captured my attention.

Four key contributors were sidelined during the Cardinal Relays, and three of them were off the track in Worthington last Saturday.

That means LHS is not at full strength, but the Cards are dominating the competition.

“We always preach the team concept in our program, and anytime you take someone out of the lineup, the team suffers,” said LHS coach Craig Nelson.

“The good thing for us is we have some depth. Our production does not drop off a lot when some of our kids are missing. We have kids who can fill in the spots where we have some injuries, and they are doing a great job.”

The kids who have accepted the challenge of filling in the lineup are replacing some pretty talented athletes.

Tayla Peterson (tendonitis) is Luverne’s top sprinter, and Madison Schandelmeier (general soreness) is an outstanding distance runner.

Both Peterson and Schandelmeier represented Luverne at the state meet last June, as did Jadyn Anderson (stress fracture), a key runner in the middle distances.

Add Shelbie Nath (back) to the list of the walking wounded, and LHS has been missing four athletes who were expected to be key members for the 2015 team.

Peterson and Schandelmeier are expected to return to the team this year, but it’s unclear if Anderson and Nath will be back on the track.

Luverne, however, seems to be moving forward without missing a beat.

In fact, based on recent results, there’s no reason to believe the Cardinals won’t be able to reach their ultimate goal that was established prior to the season.

“Again, it goes back to having great depth. Have a number of kids who can compete in multiple events, even if they are not their favorite events, has been crucial for us,” Nelson said.

“We’ve won some good meets, but everything we do is gearing up for the Section True Team we’ll be hosting Monday. Our goal is to win that meet and give our girls a chance to defend the state title they won last year later in May, and I think we have the potential to do that.”

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