STAPLES -- You don't have to talk about streaks in area sports too long before the conversation naturally turns to the current streak put up by the Staples-Motley Cardinals boys' cross country team.
Currently their run stands at four Class A state championships, five conference championships, five subsection championships, and five section championships. Lest you think the Cardinals might be satisfied with their past achievements, understand that head coach Gene Mattila has challenged his team to once again repeat as state champions.
"We're four-time defending state champs and intend to win our fifth in a row this year," said Mattila. "And, the goal for our girls is the same, I guess, as every other team's -- to win the state championship. Is that realistic? Yes.
"We will be strong and very competitive for many years to come," Mattila said.
"If we do go down, we will never go quietly into the night," said Mattila in a paraphrase of the famous line from the Dylan Thomas poem.
Clearly, Mattila holds every member of his team in high regard. He considers the group as much family as team. He cited a few examples.
"Steph Jares, Brittany Brenny and Liza Milless are top-notch, upper-level winners in everything they do," Mattila said. "Holly Windschitl, Traci Weishalla and Amanda Reichel provide leadership as well as scoring for the team. Kelsey Griffith, Megan Pierce, Hannah Landecker and Courtney Robinson are the seventh-graders we call 'The Mighty Mites'. They're going to become very well known.
"Jeff Brever (two-time defending state champion) is an awesome humanoid. Ryan Klingaman is on a mission. Luke Grandlund is coming into his own and will succeed. Jacob Huebsch, Mike Schafer, David Reichel, Chad Brever and Cole Brenny all ensure that every one of our kids is family and belongs on this team. Chris 'Buddy' Anderson is simply 'The Man'."
The boys' roster includes:
Seniors: Captain Jeff Brever, Ryan Klingaman, Luke Grandlund, Mike Schafer.
Juniors: Jacob Huebsch, Cole Brenny, Bobby Burton.
Sophomores: Chris Anderson, David Reichel, Mike Bach.
Freshmen: Chad Brever, Derek Gold, Dan Freeman, Zach Johnson
Eighth grader: Dan Huebsch
The girl's squad includes:
Sophomore: Captain Holly Windschitl.
Freshmen: Steph Jares, Amanda Reichel.
Eighth-graders: Brittany Brenny, Liza Milless.
Seventh-graders: Hannah Landecker, Kelsey Griffith, Megan Pierce, Courtney Robinson, Gina Shaw.
Swimming and diving
This year's version of the Cardinals' swim team is inexperienced. It follows a squad that set five school records in 1999, including medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. The team lost some key swimmers, yet coach Bruce Onischuk finds reason for optimism.
"Three key swimmers moved out of the district and that will greatly affect us," Onischuk said. "We are still optimistic that we should be strong in some events. We will have to wait and see how some of the younger girls progress."
Katie Palmer, Abby Palmer, Bretta Biner, Tara Snyder, Bre Brown and Rachel Saver all return from last year's team.
New candidates for the varsity squad include Kayla Stone, Chelsea Pettit, Megan Miller, Sonja Pipek, Amanda Line, Casey Peterson and Brittany Froman.
This year, when Coach Ryan Beachy of the Staples-Motley Cardinals looks deep into his play book, he'll see quite a few question marks mixed in with the Xs and Os. Performance questions are always the mark of an inexperienced team.
"We are a very young team with little varsity experience," Beachy said. "We have good athletic ability. If we can put things together, we could have good potential by season's end."
Last season the squad was perfectly balanced, going 3-3 in conference play, 5-5 overall and reaching the section semifinal game. The team's finish in 2000 will depend on the performance of three returning seniors and a squad filled out by underclassmen.
Key members of the squad include:
Seniors: Tony Johnson (defensive back), David Anderson (defensive line), Shawn Miles (defensive line).
Juniors: Adam Barnett (tight end), Matt Mosack (quarterback, linebacker), Kyle Bendson (defensive back), Kyle Detloff (fullback, linebacker), Jace Thompson (fullback, line backer), Chris Jennissen (tackle), Nick Vogt (tackle) and Nick Mertens (guard).
"A rebuilding season" is how head coach Linda Card describes the outlook for her Cardinals volleyball team. The Staples-Motley squad is coming off a 20-3 overall record a year ago, having graduated eight seniors from the team.
There are no returning starters but five team members that were on last year's squad. These include seniors Rachel Landecker, Beth Warner and Danika Johnson and juniors Nikki Bender and Mary Hasselberg.
New to the varsity are senior Tina Blake, juniors Emily Goff, Rachel Domier, Beth Hoffert and Stephanie Rice along with ninth-grader Michelle Honek.
Coach Kevin Coughlin is hoping to follow up last year's perfect 6-0 conference record with another impressive year from his Cardinal tennis team.
To do that, his squad will have to overcome another difficult schedule as it seeks to build on the laurels the Cardinals earned during the 1999 season. Last year's squad was the state academic champion and state runner-up on the court. Along the way, the team collected Mid-State Conference, subsection and section championships.
According to Coughlin, the Cardinals return seven starters from last year's squad, including senior captains Amy Peterson, Mary Digiovanni and Julie Nytes. Others expected to make important contributions include juniors Laura Warn, Emily Waldahl and Alison Edin.
Sophomores on the team include Jenna Vogel and Rose Milles.
Hoping to earn varsity positions are eighth-graders Jacque Peterson and Amanda Digiovanni, freshmen Emma Pipek, Nicole Hoffmann and Bri Orth, sophomores Christy Hanson, Tessa Reck, Emily Borrows and Daphne Griffith and junior Alison Edin.
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