After the football team went 4-6 last season, Mankato East needs to bounce back for some victories this season. They have started out 2-2 this season and are starting to find holes from last season carrying over. They are on a two-game winning streak and piled 58 points on Red Wing in their recent win, but put up only 26 points in the first two weeks. The team needs to find more offense and find consistency on both sides of the ball to sustain success.
On the cross country boys team, returning seniors Caleb Caflisch, Jacob Engler and Luke Lehne have to step up as leaders on the Cougars. The going is always tough for the winter and outdoor runners, but the team is made up of three seniors, juniors and sophomores. With six upperclassmen on the boys team, the squad should have plenty of role models to follow into the winter. The girls team has a different challenge, with 13 of the 17 person team underclassmen.
“This year’s theme is PUSH, which stands for Persist Until Success Happens. We are a young team–12 rookies and 10 returners, six new JH runners–which also means we have 6 new runners 9-12. We graduated six seniors last year, including one and two. We are really focusing on having fun and setting goals because we have lots of untapped potential on our roster,” said head coach Jennifer Hillger. “Ava Matejcek, an 8th grader, has shown herself to be one of our top-two and ended up being number three on our team last year. Megan Scheel, an 8th grader, ran for us at Sections last year and is proving to be part of the top-seven again. Emily Sellner, a sophomore, has also shown a lot of improvement and leadership on our Varsity squad. We picked up a lot of strong 7th grade runners and runners from track that should break into our varsity line-up. These will include Joanna Bristol, Olivia Beschorner, and Emmy Schulz.”
As for where this team hopes to be, along with where the cross country program hopes to go, the coach had high expectations.
“Place in the top-9 in the Big 9 Conference Meet. All girls beat their goals this season. Create a family atmosphere on the team,” said Hillger. “Success this season is going to come as we learn how to race 5K’s, since we are so young. We have some great leadership from our returners, whether they are seniors or 8th graders.”
For the soccer team, the boys squad has gotten off to a great start, with a 8-5 record and 6-1 over the team’s last seven matches. The team has already amassed 27 goals on the season and has benefited greatly from only having three underclassmen and a veteran team to keep the squad chugging.
“The theme or hashtag the girls and I are using this year is #AsATeam. Basically this means that everything we do and everything we accomplish, go through, wins and loses we do as a team instead of individually,” said head soccer coach Lizzy Vetter on the girls’ team mindset and aspirations. “The goals for this year include developing confidence on the ball for everyone and getting used to new positions as we change into an attacking-based team. As far as postseason goals, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t every team’s goal to make it far in sections and on to the state tournament as well as it is ours, however that doesn’t dictate the fact of if we had a successful season or not.”
On the girls’ team, the squad headed out red hot and on a 4-0 win streak, but have since leveled off and sit at 7-5-1 on the year. The team scored 17 goals in the opening four games, but only could find 20 goals in the following nine games. The team has scored one or less goals in three of their last nine games and need to find the scoring rhythm that started them off so very well.
“Some key returning players include senior Jenny Vetter who is a top returning goal scorer this season, and has already verbally committed to playing collegiate soccer at MNSU,” Vtter said.
Joining her is junior defender Brandi Drumm, and junior attacker Natalie Schisel. Key incoming players for this season are two goalies both new to the game of soccer in sophomore Emily Eckheart and freshman Maddie Glowgoski, who spend time rotating between varsity and JV.
“Along with our goalies we have three incoming 7th graders who we look to fill their role when given time on the field. They are defender Hailey Schlager, attacker Julia Ficsher, and midfielder Ella Huettl,” said coach Vetter talking on the team’s strengths and what games to watch.
“As far as key match ups it is impossible to mention the East vs. West game simply because it is such a large event for the Mankato soccer community as a whole, but key matchups left in our season also include Austin, Northfield, and Owatonna. All are Big-9 Conference games, and two are section competitors.”
As for the volleyball team , the girls have had a rough go of it early, starting 3-18 and have gone 1-6 in their last seven matches. While they are able to keep the early sets tight, the unfortunate trend is the fall off near the end of games for the Mankato East volleyball squad.
“The theme for this year is focusing on one day at a time and making progress with each point in a game or each day in the gym. Goals include giving our best effort every day and learning to bounce back from mistakes or not our best days,” said head coach Piper Timmerman on what the team needs to do for success.
Returning key players are Maya Mukamuri, Sammie Bruggeman, Randi Sabatka, and Maggie Taylor. Some of the incoming key players are Aliya Mukamuri, Emma Bodnar, Abby Grams, Sarah Strom, Madie Clarke, and Tayler Swalve.