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Aurora

Badger track seeking back-to-back titles



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Kortlyn Freeman (left) and Ariel Altergott cheer on their teammates March 21 at the Cudahy Invite. The girls team's chemistry could lead to back-to-back conference titles. Mike Ramczyk.

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Cychner (click for larger version)

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Badger senior Liberty Wieseman qualified for state in discus last season. (click for larger version)
March 26, 2013 | 03:48 PM
With the spring Sports season still in its early stages, snow has prevented area teams from doing much of anything outdoors.

Both the Badger girls and boys track teams have had some indoor competition, but things won't get serious until the first outdoor meet April 4. Badger girls track coach Jenn Jaeger, who enters her third season, said it's early but her team is determined to repeat as Southern Lakes Conference champions.

"We have used a couple indoor meets as practices," she said Monday. "We've had great starts, but overall our times haven't been what we're capable of. Right now, we are doing what we can with the weather."

Currently, Badger High School is on spring break, but Jaeger said she has a dedicated bunch that will continue to train.

Despite the key losses of conference champions Annie Gaugert, Aaryn Edge, Lana Wieseman and Carly Beil, Badger welcomes back 15 letter-winners.

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Senior Liberty Wieseman was the team's lone state qualifier, in the discus. Badger also brings back conference champions Ariel Altergott, Tristan Sproul, Alyssa Olsen, Elle Adams, Angelina Labonne and Taylor Ajamian. Karina Reeves, Olivia Asta and Allison Paleka made an impact last season.

Jaeger said more than 60 girls are out for track squad, and all have competed on the varsity level. She added there are newcomers at every grade level as well. For example, there are 15 freshmen.

"We consider ourselves a team," Jaeger said. "That's the reason we have success. The girls are hard-working and determined. We had a lot of success at all levels last season, and the girls are ready for more. The girls like to support their teammates in every event."

Badger won conference and regionals last season, and the junior varsity squad also won conference.

Jaeger said it could take some time to fill the holes left from her departing seniors from last year, but an old face will help with the process. DeeDee Giovingo, who was the Badger girls track head coach before Jaeger, is returning to the team as an assistant coach.

Jaeger said she is looking forward to working with the different coaches and keeping a pulse on the entire team.

"We will be building off last year's success," she said. "Everyone cares about each other on the team. That's tough to do with such an individual sport."

Jaeger said the biggest team goal is to repeat as conference champs but also to send more individuals to state. She said Wieseman is already improving in the discus and shot put.

She said the team's sectional will be tough, and there are three or four teams in the Southern Lakes who should contend for the crown. Waterford, Westosha Central and Union Grove will be Badger's toughest competition.

Both the Badger boys and girls will host the Badger triangular Thursday, April 4, at 4 p.m.

Experience will lead boys

Third-year coach AJ Curtis likes his Badger boys track team's experience this season.

But will it be enough to improve on last year's fourth-place conference finish?

"I think the guys really believe they can win conference this year," Curtis said. "We are focusing on getting better every day. We have a lot of young athletes that got a great deal of experience last year. We have a very close-knit group, and we have really made it a team atmosphere."

The boys will have to overcome the loss of Eddy Ruzga, who is playing football and running track at Division 1 Army. Also, Dan Sepe and Nate Kendzior must be replaced from last year's squad.

But Badger returns a bevy of letter-winners, including Andy Cychner, Carlos Garcia, Connor Kotula, Jeremy Fischer, Andrew Allen, Erik Sundstrom, Evan Gibson, Michael Szeszol, Tomas Pecha, Alex Martinez, Jordan Mason and Zane Zachary.

Curtis also likes the team's crop of new talent.

"We have a number of very talented freshman out and a few upperclassmen that have really shown they are going to work hard and are determined to produce for their teammates," he said.

For spring break this week, Curtis said his team is practicing from 8 to 11 a.m. every morning and working on technique, explosiveness and stamina.

Curtis said the weather has made things difficult in terms of getting outside, but he likes the team's progress.

"We are concentrating on the only thing we can control, ourselves, our effort and our team."

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