Abbi Roerdink

Central's Abbi Roerdink

PELLA — Following the graduation of a talented senior class, the Central College women’s track and field team will go as far as its young roster can take it in 2022.

Central sent four individual women’s entries to the 2021 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships. All four graduated and were joined by two additional All-American Rivers Conference performers, leaving just three returning all-conference performers on this year’s roster.

“We probably lost about 50 points from last year’s conference meet because of graduation,” coach Brandon Sturman said. “We have a big gap to close and it’s going to be a challenge.”

The roster is not short on potential with 48 names on it this year, including 18 letterwinners and 18 newcomers.

“Every year it’s a challenge to keep filling roster spots and to keep everyone healthy,” Sturman said. “In order to give ourselves a chance we have to be able fill slots at the conference tournament. This roster size puts us in a position to be more competitive.”

The indoor season started with the Dutch Holiday preview in December and ends with the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 11-12 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The outdoor season begins with the Central Invitational April 1-2 and ends at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 26-28 in Geneva, Ohio. The American Rivers Conference Championships are both in Dubuque this year, with the indoors set for Feb. 25-26 and outdoors set for May 12-14.

Multi-events

Krissa Larson (senior, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) brings three years of pentathlon/heptathlon experience to the roster, including four top-eight finishes at the conference meets. She’ll be busy student teaching this semester but is still preparing to compete.

“It’s going to be challenging for her but she’s going to be a leader,” Sturman said “She’s at a point where some things come naturally to her. It’s a matter of fine tuning.”

She’ll be joined by a trio of newcomers, including sophomore Taryn Hintz (Primghar, South O’Brien HS) and freshmen Rayna Sickels (Indianola) and Karsyn Lamm (Mount Pleasant).

“It’s going to be a young group,” Sturman said. “They’re all just learning what the multis is all about and how to do each event. They each have a specialty, but they are learning how to put it all together.”

Throwing events

The women’s throws group is seven athletes deep and headed by junior Abby Marr (Riceville). Marr placed sixth at conference indoors in the weight throw.

“Abby has been learning some of the best in our program and now it’s her time to shine and take the lead,” Sturman said. “She has grown a lot and I think the first meet really showed it. She has some lofty goals and we are excited to see what she can accomplish this year.”

Transfer Alyssa Streigel (sophomore, Mount Pleasant) had a strong showing at the Dutch Holiday Preview in December while sophomores Alana Curtis (Phoenix, North Phoenix Prep HS) and Morgan Gallentine (Webster City) also offer returning experience.

“Alyssa had a really good first meet in December,” Sturman said.

Sydney Burgardt (senior, Britt, West Hancock HS) was eighth in the outdoor javelin at conference. Freshman Allison Van Gorp (Pella, Pella Christian HS) placed fifth in 1A at the Iowa High School Championships in the discus throw and we’ll contribute outdoors after basketball season. Freshmen Morgan Devereaux (Storm Lake) also and Kira Baldus (St. Ansgar) give Central a deep pool of talent in the throws.

Jumps

Kasey Pelzer (sophomore, Pleasantville) scored points at the indoor and outdoor conference championships in the long jump and will look to move up the placement list as a sophomore.

“She had a great start to the season in December,” Sturman said.

Malory Jones (junior, Fairfield) is joined by Burgardt and MacKenzie Kruse (junior, St. Clair, Minn.) in the high jump. Jones earned USTFCCCA All-Central Region honors indoors last year after clearing 5 feet, 3.75 inches in a February meet.

In the pole vault, Cali Coffman (junior, Leawood, Kan., Blue Valley HS) scored at both conference meets last year, finishing fourth indoors.

“She had a great year last year,” Sturman said. “She hit her lifetime best and she can continue to build off that. We’re excited about her in the pole vault.”

Chloe Morgan (sophomore, Pella, Pella Christian HS), who triple jumped for the first-time last year, is back for year two. Emma Schossow (sophomore, Clive, Waukee HS) is also going to compete in the horizontal jumps.

Middle-distance and distance

The Dutch women’s cross country team had its best finish at the conference meet in over 10 years by finishing third in 2021. That group is vying to continue its success on the track with NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships qualifier Caroline McMartin (sophomore, Pella) headlining the group. McMartin earned all-conference honors on the second place 4x800-meter relay team indoors and scored in three other events at the two championship meets. Alyssa Mayhew (sophomore, North Aurora, Ill., West Aurora HS) was also on that indoor 4x800 squad, earning all-conference accolades.

“Caroline is definitely someone we’re going to lean on,” Sturman said. “She has some big goals and big dreams and we’re going to help her reach those the best we can.”

Juniors Lauren Coon (Oskaloosa), Hailey Hill (Las Vegas, Nev., West Career and Technical Academy), Lauren Miller (sophomore, Dubuque) and sophomores Layken Bytnar (Bettendorf), Lindsey Davidson (Northwood, Northwood-Kensett HS), Megan Johnson (sophomore, Parkersburg, Aplington-Parkersburg HS) and Kate Hoogensen (sophomore, Ankeny Centennial HS) all have earned varsity letters in track and can fill a variety of the distance events.

“We saw what some of them could do after this cross country season,” Sturman said. “The distance events are an area where you can really sneak away more points. There are multiple distance events, so we’ll spread them out and get points in different areas.

The distance crew is also flush with freshmen poised for success.

“I think a lot of our freshmen will step up when it comes to track,” Sturman said. “Cross country can be hard for freshmen in their first collegiate training environment but by the time track starts they have a better feel for the mileage, and they’ll get their legs back under them.”

Maddie Soupir (senior, Omaha, Neb., Platteview HS) has three varsity letters and will run the mid-distance events.

Hurdles

Elsie Thoreson (sophomore, Pella) had a strong first season in the 400 hurdles, placing sixth at conference. Abby Gruver (sophomore, Lynnville-Sully HS) also excels in the 400 hurdles and will try the 60-meter hurdles indoors this season. The multi-event crew will add depth across the hurdle events.

“This is one of those events where we lost talent and depth due to graduation,” Sturman said. “We will need to be smart about how and we can use our multi-eventers to help but they are all more than capable of contending here.”

Sprints

Thoreson, Abbi Roerdink (sophomore, Tiffin, Ohio, Hopewell-Loudon HS) and Hadyn Miller (sophomore, Iowa Falls, Iowa Falls-Alden HS) were impressive in the longer sprints as freshmen with Roerdink and Thoreson running on the fifth-place 4x400-meter relay squads at the indoor and outdoor conference meets. An injury will keep Miller out for most, if not all, of the season but Sturman is still excited about the group.

“They all showed a lot of promise last year and we’re hoping to build off of that,” Sturman said. “Losing Hadyn is going to be a big loss but she will still be a leader for us.”

Morgan, Pelzer, Schossow and Lauren Brown (sophomore, Underwood) are among the other contenders in the sprints races.

“We’re excited about picking up Lauren,” Sturman said. “I think she has a lot of potential to step in and fill a role for us.”

The Dutch get their first action of 2022 at the Dutch Early Bird Pentathlon on Friday, Jan. 14 and the Dutch Athletics Classic on Saturday, Jan. 15.

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