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Girls track: Chasing a True Team trip

After just missing the mark last season, the Rosemount Girls Track team hopes to make the True Team state meet this year.

The Rosemount girls track team just missed its first-ever True Team state meet berth last year when it finished second behind Prior Lake in Section 3AAAA, and ended up two spots away from earning a wild card berth.

The Irish lost a few key contributors to graduation, but head coach Sara Hatleli is hoping a solid mix of returning sprinters, hurdlers and distance runners can once again put the team in the hunt for True Team state.

"That was the best finish we have had at True Team in a long time," she said. "I want to continue that momentum and put ourselves in the position to compete at the True Team state meet.... I'd also like to see more athletes compete at the state meet this year and we definitely have some kids who could compete at that level."

Three athletes are back with state-meet experience for the Irish, including two that competed at Hamline University last spring when the team finished 45th. Sophomore Rachel Schow accounted for two of the team's points with a sixth-place finish in the 100 hurdles and added a 10th-place finish in the 200-meter dash, and senior Katie Duff placed 14th at state in the discus in her first career appearance.

"I expect Katie and Rachel to be back at the state meet this year," Hatleli said. "I think they both have the potential to place very high in the state meet."

Hannah Grim is also back with the Irish after qualifying for state two years ago in the 4x400 relay. The state cross country qualifier will be joined in the distance runs by fellow state cross country runner Liz Evenocheck, Taybri Irving, Taylor Rambo, Lizzie Thooft, Alyssa Watkins and Natalie Narloch.

Joining Schow in the sprints and hurdle events will be returning letter-winner Javonna Johnson, as well as Renae Otto, Daria Cathey and Ellie Vraa, who all scored points for the Irish at the conference and section meets a season ago.

"We expect that they will do the same thing this year and potentially more," Hatleli said.

Rounding out Rosemount's returning letterwinners in the field events are discus throwers Molly Gruenke and Keturah Marxhausen, shot putters Abby Monn and Alyssa Smith, pole vaulter Kelly Rowe and jumper Chella Maletese.

"We had some great athletes in the vertical and horizontal jumps who graduated last year, so that is an area that we need some younger athletes to step in and up their game," Hatleli said. "Overall, we have some high-quality athletes returning in all of our other events."

Hatleli is hoping some of those field event athletes will emerge from her group of freshmen and middle-schoolers, headed up by returning letterwinners Ana Halverson and Josie French.

"Our middle school and ninth-grade athletes have a whole lot of promise," she said. "I'm excited to see what they can do in our upcoming meets."

Weather permitting, the Irish will open the season today at the Prior Lake Invitational. They host Eagan, Eastview, Prior Lake, Northfield and Rochester Century for their home invitational on Tuesday.