The Blue Earth Area Buc girls track and field team is making what appears to be its annual trek to Stillwater High School. The Bucs will make their eight straight appearance in the Class A True Team state meet at 10 a.m. today.
"Every year is a little different. There are new challenges with injuries and athletes, and trying to find the right lineup to help you score the most points," said Blue Earth Area head coach Tom Plocker. "But we've been really blessed with some fantastic athletes over the years and that's been fun."
For the second time in those eight years, the Blue Earth Area girls will be joined by their male counterparts as the Bucs try to become a pair of state champions.
STATE-BOUND BUCS — Members the Blue Earth Area Buc girls and boys track and field teams competing in today’s Class A True Team State meet at 10 a.m. at Stillwater High School include, front row (l to r): Taylor Olson, Micah Twedt, Nick Beattie, Krista Hassing, Brad More, Steven Plocker and Clayton Johnson. Middle row: Alissa Norman, Nyla Anderson, Skylee Bell, Shayna Stevermer, Kaitlyn Olsen, Nick Shure, Brandon Olson, Chris Sanders, Jacob Vaske, Mariah Twedt, Madalyn Gaydon, Paige Darrington, Taylor Grandgenett, Anne Franta and Miranda Johnson. Back row: Lindsey Norman, Karli Olsen, Rowan Hacken, Kyle Mercer, Tyler Hannamen, Zach Vaske, Ethan Rorman, Camden Bowers, Jakob Thomson, Adam Buseman, Tristan Drake, Fabia Balzer, Baily Olson, Dakota Janke, Isaac Miranda, Alberto Ocampo, Emma Olson, Mariah Morris, Andy Wigern, Emily Hynes, Derek Johnson, Jenna Stevermer, Justin Ritter, Jennifer Quintero, Seth Beckre, Danny Krieger, Sam Ripley, Malissa Hagedorn, Mariah Halvorson, Brooke Frandle, Sierra Halvorson, Malorie Huber and Zoey Thompson. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Mertens/Faribault County Register)
The Blue Earth Area girls team has finished second behind repeat champion Esko during the last two True Team competitions after claiming third in 2010 and winning the state title in 2009.
"On our girls team, we have some really fine athletes that have been involved in true team and they know what to expect and are really excited about (today's) meet," said Plocker.
Senior Krista Hassing will play a large role in making the Bucs successful in the meet, participating in the maximum of four events.
"For Krista, she's one of those athletes that coaches wish could do six or eight events because she'd do well in each one," said Plocker. "This is her sixth state true team meet, and she is a tremendous athlete and competitor for us and will be a large part of our success."
Another key for the girls will be freshman Taylor Grandgenett in both hurdle events, along with a pair of the Bucs' relays.
This season, both the Buc boys and the girls will be battling for a chance on top of the podium.
"We go to most meets together and when we've made it to the state meet with just one gender, it does feel a little weird," said Plocker. "When we have both teams there, it keeps the coaches on their toes, to keep track of athletes' health and events. But it is great to have both teams there."
The boys team will make its first trip back to Stillwater since 2010, and the fifth time since Blue Earth Area was formed.
This year's boys squad has a balanced scoring attack, led by senior Nick Beattie in the sprints.
"That is the great thing about the true team meet - in individual meets, you can have one or two athletes that are really good and score a lot of points. But if that's all you have, it isn't going to help you in true team," said Plocker. "It isn't about the superstar athletes, it is about the unsung efforts."
This year, the Blue Earth Area boys have had a lot of unsung performers.
Senior Taylor Olson is a sprinter who paces the Bucs in both the open and relay events, while sophomore Nick Shure tops the long and triple jumps.
Steven Plocker and Brad More - a pair of seniors - round out the Bucs' strength in the field events, after producing a 1-2 finish, respectively, at the South Central Conference Meet on Tuesday in St. James.
"I think for the boys team, we have a few guys that really do well in certain events. But we have solid athletes across the board, so I that should help us," said Tom Plocker.
With skilled lineups for both true team state meets, the Blue Earth Area boys and girls will take on the Class A competition with the hopes of earning the prep sports rarity of being a pair of state champions from the same school on the same day.