The Gustavus Adolphus women’s indoor track and field team lost two of three indoor all-conference selections from a year ago, but that doesn’t worry head coach Tom Thorkelson. According to Thorkelson, the Gusties should field a very balanced squad.
“Looking at our team, we should have the opportunity to score in every event.”
In regards to a MIAC title, Thorkelson was modest. “We’re shooting for a top three [finish at the MIAC meet],” said the eighth-year head coach, “but we’re not ruling out a chance at winning.” Thorkelson also noted that the team has almost always been in the hunt for the title.
The Gusties finished third a year ago at the MIAC Indoor Championships after three consecutive runner-up finishes. This season, Gustavus looks to have the personnel to make the jump to the top, but that is not Thorkelson’s main concern.
“We’re going to focus on weekly improvement.”
The Gusties are anchored in the middle distances by senior captain Ashley Cronen (Kandiyohi, Minn.) and junior Krista Cruse (Hastings, Minn.). Cronen is Gustavus’ only returning all-conference performer, picking up a second place finish in the 400-meter run at last year’s MIAC Indoor Championships. She will concentrate on running 400-meter and 800-meter races, while Cruse will tackle the 600-meter run.
Senior Blythe Bittman (Fairmont, Minn.), an experienced multi-events competitor, will also focus mainly on sprints and relays in addition to the pentathlon at the MIAC Championships in March.
Senior Kourtney Joyce (Wadena, Minn.) and junior Val Berquam (Kenyon, Minn.) lead Gustavus’ hopes in the distance races. Joyce won the 3000-meter steeplechase at last year’s MIAC outdoor championships and competed at last fall’s NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.
Sari Lindeman (Sr., Cannon Falls, Minn.) returns experience in the jumping events after finishing fourth in the triple jump and seventh in the long jump at last year’s MIAC Indoor Championships. Jessica Latzke (So., Hamburg, Minn.) leads the Gustie throwing corps after finishing seventh in the shot put at the 2005 MIAC indoor meet.
Thorkelson also added that Gustavus will be very strong in the pole vault, led by 2005 MIAC outdoor champion and 2005 NCAA outdoor qualifier Janna Castellano (Jr., Blaine, Minn.). Sophomores Alicia Bloomquist (Owatonna, Minn.) and Shanna Dawson (Fairmont, Minn.) will add depth to the vaulting corps.
There is a promising crop of first-year athletes on this year’s squad. Thorkelson notes that McKenzie Burgess (Welcome, Minn.) has an opportunity to contribute right away, participating in the sprints, middle-distance events and jumps. Lindsey TeBrake (Shakopee, Minn.) should figure into the mix in the high jump, while Lisa Brown (Lake Crystal, Minn.) will contribute in the throwing events.
“We’re excited about [the season],” noted Thorkelson, “and the coaches are ready.”
“Ideally, we’d like to peak at about the time of the [University of] Minnesota meet in mid-February,” Thorkelson noted, adding that the Gusties will be able to see how they stack up against many of the other conference schools at the University of Minnesota meet on Feb. 18.
The Gusties open the season Thursday, January 26 when they host Macalester and Martin Luther in a triangular.