Spring sports at Lakeside Lutheran and around the state get underway in earnest this week. What follows is a team-by-team outlook for each of the five Warrior spring sport offerings.

TRACK AND FIELD

2019 recap: Both the Lakeside Lutheran boys and girls won regional championships in 2019. Collin Schulz was the runner-up in the high jump at the state meet, while Casey Ponyicsanyi earned two top-five finishes. The Lakeside boys had the 400 relay team take fifth at state, while the girls 400 and 800 relay teams both advanced to state.

Coach’s resume: Justin Vanderhoof will be the head coach for the Warriors. He enters his third season at Lakeside.

Top returners: Notable returners include Lydia Buxa (hurdles and pole vault), Grace Seim (hurdles and high jump), Seth Veers (hurdles and triple jump), Christian Schmidt (hurdles), Kyle Main (400) and Ben Neumann (shot put).

“This group will serve as our leadership this year as few of our athletes have varsity experience,” Vanderhoof said.

Departing players: The Warriors’ top state performers — Schulz and Ponyicsanyi — highlight Lakeside’s biggest losses.

“Due to circumstances surrounding COVID, we do not have many returning varsity athletes this season,” Vanderhoof said. “This season will be an opportunity for our younger athletes to grow and develop and to fill the holes from our strong 2019 teams.

“This season, the strength of our team may be our distance runners, as we have young state qualifiers from the cross country season (Abigail Minning, Cameron Weiland, Paige Krahn and Mark Garcia).”

Season thoughts: “We are looking forward to the opportunity this season to re-establish the success of the Lakeside Lutheran track program after a year off,” Vanderhoof said. “Our team success will be determined by the development of our young athletes.”

SOFTBALL

2019 recap: The Warriors finished 12-9, ending their season with a regional loss to Lake Mills. Lakeside placed third in the Capitol North with a 6-4 record.

Coach’s resume: Matt Doering will be the Warriors head coach for the 19th season. Doering holds a 204-166 record.

Top returners: Senior Kylee Gnabasik has been a starter since her freshman year and was named first-team all-conference in 2019.

“She is consistent and a great leader,” Doering said. “She throws strikes and fields her position very well as a pitcher. She will likely be a top-of-the-order hitter and is solid in the short game and base running as well.”

Junior Nora Statz started as an outfielder as a freshman in 2019 for Lakeside, but will likely move to an infield position, according to Doering.

“Nora has great pop as a hitter and the strongest arm on our team,” Doering said. “She will be a heart-of-the-order hitter for us.”

Like Gnabasik, senior Olyvia Uecker has been a starter since her freshman season.

“She has a strong arm and may be our best baserunner,” Doering said. “She may stay as our third baseman but might also move to catcher or centerfield.”

Departing players: Lakeside graduated three players from the 2019 team and four more graduated last spring. The Warriors also lost senior Olivia Krieser — a first-team Capitol North selection in 2019 — to an offseason injury.

“The biggest holes will be at second, center field and catcher,” Doering said. “We hope that some of our younger players can fill in, but we may consider moving some of our other players to fill those holes.”

Season thoughts: “We hope to compete with the top of our conference,” Doering said. “If we have a solid conference season, we will be in a good position to make a run in the playoffs. One of the biggest challenges will be to get our team to come together while bringing in a large number of players that are new to the varsity level.”

BASEBALL

2019 recap: The Warriors won a regional title, but bowed out in their first sectional game against Markesan. Lakeside finished 2-8 in the Capitol North, good for fifth.

Coach’s resume: Phil Dretske is 24-17 entering his fourth season coaching the Warriors.

Top returners: Nathan Chesterman played shortstop and pitched as a sophomore, and also was a key hitter during Lakeside’s 2019 playoff run. Ian Olszewski played first base in 2019 and also gave the Warriors innings on the mound.

Gabe Uttech was one of the top second basemen in the Capitol North as a sophomore, according to Dretske. Uttech also acted as a late-game pitcher for the Warriors in 2019.

Departing players: Lakeside Lutheran loses 10 players from its 2019 roster. Riley Schmidt joins Chesterman, Olszewski and Uttech as likely senior contributors for the Warriors this season. Tyler Marty, Calvin Murray, Keegan Lamp and Brock Schneider are slated as Lakeside’s top juniors this season.

Season thoughts: “I am looking forward to a great season this year,” Dretske said. “We have a talented group of pitchers that should keep us in every game and greater depth than we have had in recent years.”

GIRLS SOCCER

2019 recap: The Warriors were unable to get into the win column, going 0-11-3. Lakeside Lutheran lost to Winnebago Lutheran Academy, 3-2, in a regional game in one of the team’s best performances of the year.

“I feel that we ended on such a positive note,” girls soccer coach Hannah Uher said. “You could clearly see the growth and hard work that the team had put in.”

Coach’s resume: Uher will look to improve on her first season with the Warriors in 2021.

Top returners: Lakeside brings back three key seniors in Haylee Meske, Kendra Wilson and Mia Murray. Uher described Meske as resilient, tenacious and one who leads by example, while she called Wilson organized and ready to score.

Murray is quick and aggressive toward the goal, according to Uher.

Departing players: Since the 2019 season, Lakeside has lost 13 varsity players. The Warriors do, however, bring back four starters from the 2019 team.

“We have some great new additions to the program in our freshman and sophomore classes,” Uher said.

Among those is sophomore Averia Wolfram, who Uher called hungry for goals and eager to see her team succeed.

“We have a significant gap left in our defense after losing so many seniors the last couple of years,” Uher said. “We’re hoping Olivia Ibeling (freshman), Sydney Nommensen (senior) and others may help fill the vacant spaces.”

Season thoughts: “We are thrilled to be back this season, anticipating the chance to compete,” Uher said. “We’re ready to move our soccer program to the next level with lots of young talent ready to blossom into a successful team. We’re especially excited to use our God-given talents as a complete unit.”

BOYS GOLF

2019 recap: The Warriors took fifth at regionals and missed advancing to sectionals by a shot. Lakeside Lutheran also finished fifth at the Capitol Conference meet.

Coach’s resume: Andrew Willems will be the head coach for a fifth consecutive season.

Top returners: Senior Will Meland looks to lead Lakeside Lutheran this season. Meland’s strength is his putting, according to Willems.

Departing players: Since 2019, the Warriors have lost four varsity players and seven of their top 10 from the program. The 2021 roster is mostly filled out with juniors who were freshmen on the ‘19 team.

“Will Popp is consistently mentally tough,” Willems said. “Brandon Kreutz can hit the ball a long way. Austin Schwab is a leader and fierce competitor. Freshman Cooper Jensen shows the most promise as one of our young players as he has some experience playing competitive golf.”

Season thoughts: “After losing our season last year, we are just pleased that the Lord would allow us to play the sport we love this spring,” Willems said. “It will be fun.”

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