The Pierz Pioneers girls' golf team graduated the only member of the squad that qualified for the Class A state tournament last season.
Still, head coach Steve Holbrook, beginning his eighth season, has reason to expect a banner year for his team.
Amber Sitzman, who finished 10th as the lone Pioneer entry in the state field in 2000, has graduated. But she is the only member of the defending Central Minnesota Conference champions and third-place finishers in the subsection tournament that the Pioneers lose.
That means Pierz once again will be the team to chase and the team to beat in the CMC.
Baseball coach -- David Rocheleau, 4th year
Career record -- 30-25
2000 finish -- 10-4 and 2nd in the Central Minnesota Conference; 14-6 overall
Assistant coaches -- Dean Dahmen, Scott Boser
Softball coach -- Mitch Becker, first year
2000 finish -- 0-14 in Central Minnesota Conference
Assistant coaches -- Sheryl Wesenberg, Maria Gohl
Track and field coach -- Craig Johnshoy, 10th year
2000 finish -- Boys: 5th place Central Minnesota Conference indoor and outdoor meets; 6th place Subsection meet. Girls: Champions CMC outdoor meet, 3rd place CMC indoor meet, 3rd place Subsection 5A.
Assistant coaches -- Rey Zimney, Karla Jensen, Justin Smith
Boys' golf coach -- Leo Pohlkamp, first year
2000 finish -- 3rd in the Central Minnesota Conference
Assistant coach -- Daryl Schomer
Girls' golf coach -- Steve Holbrook, 8th year
2000 finish -- Champions of Central Minnesota Conference.
Among the returning Pioneers are Mary Virnig, a four-year letterwinner and all-conference selection, Melinda Janson, a three-year letterwinner and all-conference selection, and Tracy Bell, a two-year letterwinner who also was all-conference.
Carrie Korf, Katie Athman and Kayla Boser are all first-year letterwinners from last season who will also be returning.
Pierz boys' head golf coach Leo Pohlkamp begins his initial season with a goal of improving on last season's third-place finish in the Central Minnesota Conference. The list of returning team members gives him some realistic hope of accomplishing that objective.
"We have a good nucleus returning," said Pohlkamp, "on a young team that finished third in the conference."
Junior Chris Boser, who advanced to sectional competition during the 2000 season and was an All-Central Minnesota Conference pick, heads the list of key returning squad members.
Joining Boser from last year's team are sophomores Doug Virnig, also an all-conference selection, Dan Fischer and Mark Seelen. Both earned letters last season.
Nathan Meyer, a freshman, is the other returning letterwinner.
Additional varsity candidates:
Juniors Allen Paulsen, Travis Talberg. Sophomores Jason Welle, Ted Welle, Anthony St. Sauver, Chad Schirmers. Freshmen Alex Dinnebier, Darren Stangl, Brian Kummet, Brad Otremba. Eighth grader Ryan Boser.
Track and field
Pierz head coach Craig Johnshoy, and his assistants Rey Zimney, Karla Jensen and Justin Smith, as well as the Pioneer boys' and girls' teams, are looking forward to making a run at improving on last year's performance that also was successful.
The girls were champions of the Central Minnesota Conference outdoor meet. That capped a season during which they also earned third place in the CMC indoor and subsection meets and second place in the True Team section meet.
The boys will be trying to improve on a season that saw them place fifth in the CMC outdoor and indoor meets, sixth in the subsection meet and seventh in the True Team section meet.
Girls: Seniors Kristine Jensen, Stacy Britz. Juniors Sheila Stegora, Stacy Gruber, Lisa Kummet, Becky Stangl, Sara Gall, Heather Boser. Sophomore Allyson Kloss. Freshmen Emily Stumpf, Kaley Jensen, Kristine Gruber. Eighth grader Theresa Gross.
Boys: Seniors Treg Swanson, Nathan Brezinka, Chad Schmidbauer. Junior Brett Meyer.
Last season, the Pioneers' baseball team, piloted by skipper David Rocheleau, started strong, winning its first three games. The Pioneers wound up finishing third in the Central Minnesota Conference and eventually advanced to the subsection semifinals before losing to Foley.
The team that finished 14-6 overall graduated seven starters, including all-conference honorees Greg Pohlkamp, John Pohlkamp and Brad Bednar.
Normally, a team that returns only two starters, in this case senior second baseman T.J Watercott and junior pitcher/short stop Dan Saehr, can look forward to a rebuilding process. But, from where Rocheleau surveys his team, there is reason to think the Pioneers will experience success this spring.
"This season we'll need some players to step it up," said Rocheleau. "(This is) a young 2001 team that, if they continue to improve throughout the season, will battle for the conference and subsection titles."
Rocheleau will build his team around the pitching of two-year starter Saehr, the power-hitting of outfielder Luke Solinger, the spark of outfielder Scott Fischer and Watercott, who had an on-base percentage of .391 a year ago.
Other returning letterwinners:
Juniors John Kahl (infield/pitcher), Austin Krohn (infield/pitcher).
Additional varsity candidates:
Juniors Ben Watercott (infield), Nathan Rothstein (1st base), Jeff Riley (3rd base), Joe Funk (outfield). Sophomores Mitch Weber (infield/pitcher), Mark Poepping (infield), Alex Gruber (outfield/pitcher), Craig Kapsner (outfield).
Just one win and first-year head softball coach Mitch Becker will eclipse the victory mark of last season's Pierz team. Becker and his Pioneers will be trying to improve on a 0-14 record and replace graduated all-conference players Sheena Loidolt and Alison Boser.
A quick glance at the Pioneers' roster tells you the team is young but has enough experience to start making a few notches in the win column. At the top of the experience column is shortstop Sheena Loidolt who was a first-team all-conference selection last season. Loidolt is a junior who boasted a .362 batting average and .426 slugging percentage last year. She was also named the teams offensive player of the year.
Kayla Pohlkamp, voted the team's most improved player, and Stacy Block, the Pioneers' defensive player of the year in 2000, also return.
Juniors Sheena Loidolt (shortstop), Stacy Block (catcher), Shelly Boser (2nd base), Kayla Happke (pitcher/infield/outfield), Jenna Schubert (pitcher/infield). Sophomores Kayla Pohlkamp (outfield), Stacy Tretter (outfield).
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.