Rangers set for another stellar season
The Forest Lake girls track program will have a new face at the helm for the 2014 season: Devin Swanberg.
Swanberg, a 2005 graduate of Chisago Lakes High School, has a rich background in track and field. The new coach, who spent five years under former head coach Eric Kaluza at Forest Lake, jumped and ran track as well as played football at Hamline University. The leaper was an all-conference high jumper and punter during his time there.
Kaluza handed the program’s reins to an eager Swanberg.
“Eric wanted a smaller role with the girls track program and wanted to focus on his expertise in distance,” Swanberg said.
He then joked about his friend: “I have more free time and maybe am a little more organized.”
Swanberg is excited about the team’s prospects. It took second place at True Team Sections in 2013, second at the conference meet, first at sections, qualified eight athletes for state and has the bulk of its talent returning this year.
The Rangers will be led by senior captains Caitlin Freer, Katie Dison, Sydney Halley, Ashly Westerman and Kristy Dellwo.
Freer and sophomore Abby Jungwirth are set for success in jumps, as Freer returns as the conference champ in both the high and triple jumps. Jungwirth held her own at sections with a runner-up finish in triple jump behind Freer’s title. Both went to state, where Jungwirth qualified for the finals, but did not place. Swanberg also expects Westerman to make waves in triple jump this season.
Tia Moscatelli will highlight the long jumping crew, while the high jumping outlook is incomplete after the team lost several athletes to graduation.
Sophomore Gena Backlund returns as a conference placer in throws. Swanberg hopes to see her reach her goal of 35 feet in shot put and 120 feet-plus in discus. Another solid contributor in both events is senior Ala Tyler.
Dellwo is a constant in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, while Freer and Jungwirth will run the 100-meter dash. Ninth-grader Maria Valentin returns for the 400- and 800-meter dashes, while ninth-grader Allie Bartlett will showcase her strides in the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter runs. Sophomore Emma Benner will specialize once again in the mile and 2-mile runs.
The 2013 state 4×800-meter relay team returns all but one runner this year with Valentin, Benner and Bartlett. Eighth-grader Caroline Schoessow is expected to fill the hole in what Swanberg hopes to be another state squad.
Forest Lake graduated hurdling standouts Jess Dhaene and Adele Hanson, and the Rangers return just one hurdler with varsity experience in junior Elli Jacobson.
In the pole vault, Cassidy Baker will be a bright point this season for her team. Baker earned sixth-place honors at last year’s state meet by clearing 11 feet. Former Ranger Taylor Brett (class of 2011) holds the school record at 11-3, but Swanberg said Baker is on track to set a new record. Dison also returns as an experienced pole vaulter.
Swanberg said that other than the switch in coaching hierarchy, the staff of Kaluza, Brittni Rodewald and Tracy Angelo remains the same — a plus according to the new coach.
“The coaching is staying the same for the first time in years,” Swanberg said. “I think we’ll have another strong season, I expect to finish high in conference, same at section and hopefully send about 10 kids to state alongside a strong finish at True Team. But in order to finish strong, both the new and older kids need to take a bigger role.”