The Pequot Lakes Patriots football team was one step away from its first state appearance.
Last year, the Patriots finished second in the Section 8, Class 3A playoffs, losing to Roseau 40-21.
It was Pequot's first year in the section and it finished 9-2. Most of the cast from that season graduated, but Pequot will attempt to ride last year's success into this fall.
"This is a very young team, but the kids are determined to do well," said second-year head coach Tony Maurer. "I feel we can be competitive in the conference. Lake of the Woods has to be the (North Star) conference favorite."
Pequot Lakes Patriots
Football coach -- Tony Mauer, 2nd year
Career record -- 9-2
2001 record -- 9-2 overall, 6-1 in North Star Conference
Assistant coaches -- Brian Koslofsky, Chip Lohmiller, Josh Willcoxen, Tom Loechler, Craig Karnitz
Volleyball coach -- Judy Heslop 21st year
2001 record -- 1-8 in Park Region Conference, 5-21 overall
Assistant coach -- Steve Heslop
Girls' tennis coach -- Mindi Brill,
Career record -- 52-41
2001 record -- 17-5 overall
Assistant coaches -- Monica Laven, Lyle Steffenson
Cross country coach -- Jon Dale, 3rd year
Assistant coach -- Kate Dale
The Patriots return 13 letterwinners from last year, including captains Matt Mailand, Tony Craig and Paul Fox.
Mailand, a 6-foot tackle, will team with Fox, a 6-foot center-defensive end, to man a capable offensive and defensive line.
That should help Craig, a fullback-linebacker, the only player returning from last year's backfield.
Also back is junior receiver James Bauman who raced onto the scene as a deep threat.
Other returning seniors are Dan Albertson (WR-LB), Brad Simpson (G-DT) and Danny Sargent (RB-CB).
Tim Koch (WR-DB), Mike Wiebolt (QB), Kyle Maderis (WR-DB) and Chris Liedl (TE-DE) are returning juniors. Sophomores back are Dallas Moorhouse (G-DT) and Marcus Mailand (T-DE).
Additional varsity candidates:
Seniors -- David Goerges (WR-DB), Andrew Christianson (TE-DB); Juniors -- Drew Harris (G-DT), Chris Clasen (QB-LB); Sophomore -- Ryan Koslofsky (RB-LB); Freshmen -- Teddy Lundgren (TE-LB), Mike Soukop (RB-CB), Nate Geike (RB-LB), Joey Jordan (OL-DL).
Ashley Meschke should have 100 career victories before the school year begins and be a favorite in Section 7, Class 1A.
Meschke begins her senior season in the familiar spot of No. 1 singles. She will attempt to make her third straight state tournament appearance.
The Pequot team also could make a run at state as it returns every player from last year.
"With all of last year's starters returning, we expect to have a successful season," said head coach Mindi Brill. "We have designed a more rigorous schedule to push our players and bring us up to the next level. Our goal is to advance to the section team tournament for the first time and play to the best of our ability."
The Patriots (17-5 last year) have moved into the Mid-State Conference with Staples-Motley, Crosby-Ironton, Park Rapids, Wadena-Deer Creek and Detroit Lakes.
Behind Ashley Meschke at No. 2 singles will be her younger sister, Valerie. The younger Meschke, a sophomore, advanced to the section individual tournament.
At No. 3 singles is Ali Gravdahl followed by Kali Welu at No. 4.
The doubles teams should also be competitive with seniors Jenny Baker and Samantha Moen pairing up for the No. 1 spot. Seniors Kristy Bender and Kristin McSherry will play No. 2 and No. 3 doubles could see a rotation between eighth-grader Kayla Lenz, sophomore Kim Williams and senior Tiffany Varilek.
Vanessa Berens, Jackie DeWolfe and Caitlin Kennedy will try to crack into the lineup.
Good senior leadership and talented younger runners could translate into success for the Pequot Lakes boys' and girls' cross country teams.
Both finished second in the Birch Tree Conference last year.
Eleven runners will compete for six spots on the Patriot girls' team. Kristin Tiggelaar is the only senior, but should provide quality leadership. Holly Johnson, Crystal Price and Nicole Szudy are juniors. Eighth-grader Toni Gammello, along with seventh-graders Madison Engen, Trista Headlee, Michelle Keen, Carica Braren, Laura Janowiec and Elizabeth Trenenschuh, will provide some youthful spark.
On the boys' side, Jeff McCulloch, Matt Kline and Pat Johnson are the senior leaders. Sophomores Mitch Hallan, Jake Scott, Leif Olson, Joshua Dale and Erik Oseland are also back.
Freshmen Tim Tiedemann and Dan Thorp, eighth-graders Jon Blake, Jacob Dale and Phillip Nachbar and seventh-grader Jesse Hallbeck are also on the team.
With a new conference, the Patriots' volleyball team hopes to improve on last year's 5-21 record.
The Patriots finished 1-8 in the Park Region Conference and will compete in the Mid-State Conference this year.
The Patriots defeated Aitkin in the first round of the Subsection 6, Class 1A tournament before losing to Deer River.
Judy and Steve Heslop begin their second year as dual head coaches.
"The girls have put in lots of time in leagues, camps and clinics this summer," said Judy Heslop. "We lost two very good volleyball players from last year in Jackie Heslop and Julie Redebaugh, but we have several players working hard to take over these positions."
Senior captains Jenna Carlson (outside hitter) and Nikki Williams (back row specialist) are among nine returning letterwinners.
Also back are seniors Megan Nordgren (middle hitter) and Carly Blanksma (utility hitter).
Junior Jessica Galloway will take over the setter position while Calida Cogan (utility hitter) is the other returning junior.
Sophomores back include Kristen Willer (middle hitter), Flecia Foster (outside hitter) and Courtney Markham (outside hitter).
Additional varsity candidates:
Juniors -- Becky Swanson (middle hitter), Kari Daudt (utility/setter), Sophomore -- Teresa Parker (middle hitter).
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