By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield girls swim team is a work in progress, and that is OK with first-year head coach Jason Karrels.
With a roster of only 16 girls, and nearly half of those being newcomers, the Tigers are focused on improving day by day.
Seniors Sophie Koehn, Elizabeth Lecker, and Erika Roeglin are four-year swimmers that lend experience to an otherwise young team that has five freshmen and two other first-year girls that are juniors.
Juniors Emily Hopperdietzel and MaryAnn Stangl and sophomores Hannah Berg, Riya Bolander, Ariel Fernandez, and Maggie Stangl return to the Tigers’ lineup. Juniors Ciara Peterson and AmilyShree Trivedi-Ziemba are new to the squad.
“My main goal for this season is for the times to come down,” said Karrels, who was an assistant coach the past two seasons. “With the second smallest team in the conference, I knew going into the season that having a winning record would be tough if not impossible. Right now we are putting in hard work in practice, and we are seeing times go down. We are focusing on endurance in practice as most teams fade near the end of the races, and I know that is a spot we can work on to catch up.”
Now that all of the team’s invitational meets are completed, the Tigers will move into a full schedule of dual meets for the next five weeks leading up to the Wisconsin Valley Conference Meet on Oct. 26.
Marshfield hosted La Crosse Logan/Central for a nonconference meet Thursday and will next have four-straight WVC duals before closing out the regular season at Lakeland on Oct. 17.
Karrels said he is trying to keep the team positive after a rough start to its Valley schedule last week when it lost at home to D.C. Everest.
“We had a bye the first week of conference duals, and based on the scores, there was a definite line drawn in the sand between Everest, Stevens Point, and Wausau East, and Merrill, Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau West, and ourselves. Unfortunately, we face the top three in a row to start conference season, which I know will bring the girls’ spirits down as I saw last Monday when we hosted Everest. (Assistant) coach Bart Stevning-Roe and I are trying to keep the team as positive as I can so we can continue to work hard and hopefully have a great back half of our season as we face West, Rapids, and Merrill.”
Despite the lack of depth created by the normal group of seniors graduating and a number of other incoming upperclassmen deciding not to swim this fall, the Tigers’ futures are looking up with a strong freshman class.
Kaitlin Alberts, Alyssa Franks, and Hope Risa have all had early-season success both individually and on relays, mostly combining with the three seniors in one form or another.
Hannah Hansen and Emilie Koran are also freshmen on the team striving to earn varsity spots.
“I am super happy with the trio of freshmen we got this year,” Karrels said. “They are definitely filling in some spots that we have been weaker in the last few years and are complementing the strong showings of Elizabeth, Erika, and Sophie.”
Paul Lecker is the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.