MANKATO — Senior Kelsey Ekstedt of Mankato East is what many coaches would refer to as a “proven commodity.”
It doesn’t matter what sport she’s playing, coaches know they’re going to get her 100 percent best effort every time out. Whether it’s tending goal in soccer, playing defense on the hockey team or competing in track, Ekstedt always finds a way to be a major player.
Head girls track coach Neil Paarmann says Ekstedt not only proved her value to the team last season, she did so again last week in the team’s opener.
“We entered her in four events and she placed in all of them,” Paarmann said. “That’s a lot of team points. We expect to have her in four events almost every meet — she’s that good.”
Ekstedt’s best event is probably the 300-meter hurdles. She was honorable mention All-Big Nine in that event last year. She also does the 100-meter hurdles, some sprint relays and the triple jump.
One of Ekstedt’s goals for this spring is to qualify for state in the 300 hurdles. The senior, who is in her sixth year on the track team, believes that is her strongest event.
“She’s well-suited for it,” Paarmann said. “She’s taller and stronger than she was last year and that lends itself to being a good hurdler. If she sets her mind to it I don’t doubt it can be done.”
Ekstedt has signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., this fall to continue her soccer career. The All-City goaltender plans to major in exercise science with an emphasis in cardiac rehab.
The Cougar track team finished ninth in the Big Nine a year ago and coach Paarmann is looking for major improvement. In addition to Ekstedt, the team returns Kjersten Parsons, Judy Kamara, Claire Ziegler and Taylor Karge. All should be significant point scorers.