By Jim Rueda email@example.com
The Mankato Free Press
---- — MANKATO — It began simply as a way to stay in shape for volleyball and basketball. Now it has become an endeavor she truly enjoys.
Mankato East senior Taylor Karge has narrowed her college choices down to Gustavus Adolphus and Wisconsin-River Falls. She expects to make a decision within the next two weeks as to where she will continue her basketball career.
In the meantime, she’s fully entrenched in the track and field season. Her specialties are the high jump and triple jump, but she also helps out in the 4x400-meter relay.
“I went to seventh and eighth grade at Mt. Olive Lutheran,” Karge said. “So I didn’t get to East until I was a freshman. I went out for track just to stay active, to stay busy, but I’ve learned to enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would.”
To date, Karge’s personal best jumps are a 5-feet even in the high jump and 33-6 in the triple. She hopes to surpass both those marks this season.
“Ultimately, I guess I’d like to go to state, but I think everybody is going to tell you that,” she said. “The main goal is to just keep improving. If you work hard, good things happen.”
Karge has been competing on the 4x4 relay since her sophomore season. She started out just running some open 400s before the coaches thought she’d be a good fit for the relay.
“I really like that event,” she said. “The jumps are individual events where you are basically competing against yourself, but the relay is a lot more team oriented.”
Coach Neil Paarmann said Karge’s intention to make herself better in her other sports has really helped the track program.
“We preach that track and field is going to make you stronger and quicker and that carries over into just about all the other sports,” Paarmann said. “Taylor bought into that, and now she’s having a blast. Her athleticism is really shining through.”
In an indoor meet at Minnesota State on Thursday, Karge won the high jump at 4-10 and helped the 4x200-meter relay team finish third (1:56.7).
Paarmann says he has about 120 girls out in grades 7-12 this season. With state qualifiers Claire Ziegler and Alyson Enderle back to anchor the throws, that figures to be a strong suit this spring.
Karge is also one of the captains as is sprinter Mishya Rowe, another returning state qualifier who will do mostly 200s and 400s and compete on some relays.
The veteran coach believes the Cougars can finish in the top three again in the Big Nine Conference this season. He also hopes East can successfully defend its section true-team title and move up from its seventh-place finish at last year’s state meet.
At an indoor meet hosted by Blue Earth Area at Minnesota State on Thursday, the Bucs’ Taylor Grandgenett won the 55-meter high hurdles in 9.25, Skylee Bell won the 55-meter dash in 7.52, Karli Olsen took the 400 meters in 62.36 and Shayna Stevermer won the 55-low hurdles in 9.47.
East’s Steph Morrow won the pole vault (8-6), while the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet foursome of Jordan Welsch, Maddy Saucier, Damia Siebenhaler and Tessa Germscheid won the 4x200 relay in 1:37.1.
St. Clair’s Julia Loeffler captured the 1,600 meters in 6:02.4.
There were eight events remaining in the meet when the paper went to press.