Track and Field: Talented Park Rapids girls expect another successful season

The Panthers set their sights on winning the Section 8AA True Team, Mid-State Conference, Subsection 8A East and Section 8A titles.

Providing leadership for the Park Rapids girls track and field team during the 2023 season are seniors (from left) Olivia Davis, Morgan Koppelman, Natalia Lopez, Riley Pike, Julia Harmon and Aleka London.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Corey Hill begins his final season as head coach of the Park Rapids girls track and field team with what he feels could be one of his most talented groups ever.

The Panthers return all but three members from last year’s squad that won the subsection title for the 16th year in a row, claimed the Section 8A title and qualified for the state Class A meet in four events.

“Our goals are set high this season,” said Hill. “We’d like to make a run at winning the Mid-State Conference title, place higher in the (Section 8AA) True Team meet and defend our subsection and section titles. Our ultimate goal is to fill the bus and take all four relays and as many individuals as possible to state.”

Four members who qualified for state return this season. That group features seniors Olivia Davis, Morgan Koppelman and Natalia Lopez and sophomore Addison Lauwagie. Those four ran on the 4 x 400-meter relay team that placed sixth while Koppelman, Lopez and Lauwagie ran on the 4 x 800 relay unit that placed eighth. Koppelman also finished sixth in the pole vault as the Panthers scored 10 points to tie for 31st place. Lauwagie also qualified in the 800, placing 17th. Holly Johnson, who graduated, was the other member of the 4 x 800 relay team.

In addition to those four, 19 other athletes return who competed at last year’s Subsection 8A East meet. That group features seniors Julia Harmon, Aleka London and Riley Pike; junior Olivia Lange; sophomores Nora Bolton, Kiera Demoret, Brooke Kritzeck, Jena Meier, Olivia Miller, Brandi Morgan and Laney Vrieze; freshmen Breanna DeBlieck, Grace Etter, Sarah Hartung and Grace Officer; and eighth graders Madeline Brandt, Embry Deshayes, Amelia Gravdahl and Avery Schueller.


At the Section 8AA True Team meet at Fergus Falls, the Panthers finished fourth with 467 points as Detroit Lakes won the title with 561 points in the 11-team meet. Park Rapids then placed third at the five-team Mid-State Conference meet at Vern Weekley Field with 137 points. Detroit Lakes also won that title with 167 points. Back after taking first for the Panthers in the conference meet are Davis, Lauwagie, Lopez and Koppelman in the 4 x 400 relay and Lauwagie, Lopez and Brandt in the 4 x 800 relay. Lopez also won the 400 and Koppelman finished first in the pole vault while Pike (long jump) and Koppelman (1,600) had runner-up finishes.

Park Rapids dominated at the initial Subsection 8A East meet at Roseau with 188 points as Bagley/Fosston was a distant second with 101 points. Winning individual subsection titles were Lauwagie in the 800, Lopez in the 400 and Pike in the long jump. Davis, Lauwagie, Lopez and Koppelman won the 4 x 400 relay while Lauwagie, Lopez and Koppelman were members of the winning 4 x 800 relay team. Adding runner-up showings were Vrieze, Miller and Kritzeck in the 4 x 100 relay and 4 x 200 relay. Koppelman also took second in the 800 and pole vault.

Also qualifying for the section meet were Vrieze (fourth in the 100), Davis (third in the 400, sixth in the triple jump), Lauwagie (third in the pole vault), Miller (third in the 200), Harmon (third in the 3,200, eighth in the shot put), Schuller (seventh in the 200), Pike (third in the triple jump), Brandt (third in the 800, fourth in the 1,600), Kritzeck (third in the 100 hurdles, third in the high jump, fifth in the 300 hurdles), Meier (sixth in the high jump), Bolton (eighth in the 3,200), Morgan (fourth in the triple jump), DeShayes (fifth in the 1,600) and Etter (sixth in the 1,600).

The other subsection competitors were Miller (sixth in the long jump), Harmon (eighth in shot put), Schueller (ninth in 100), London (ninth in 3,200), Morgan (seventh in long jump), Officer (eighth in 300 hurdles), DeBlieck (eighth in 100 hurdles), Lange (10th in discus, 16th in shot put), Hartung (11th in discus), Gravdahl (13th in 100) and Demoret (16th in 200).

Leading the Panthers to the Section 8A title with winning times were the 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relay teams as well as Koppelman in the pole vault. Lauwagie was the runner-up in the 800 to qualify for state. Taking third were the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay units and Koppelman in the 800 while Miller finished fourth in the 200. Also scoring points were Harmon (fifth in the 3,200), Brandt (fifth in the 800), Vrieze (sixth in the 100), Pike (sixth in the long jump, sixth in the triple jump), Davis (seventh in the 400, eighth in the triple jump), Morgan (seventh in the triple jump) and Kritzeck (eighth in the high jump). That group tallied 96.50 points as Bagley/Fosston was second with 71.50 points.

Rounding out Park Rapids’ section squad were Harmon (10th in the shot put), Schueller (10th in the 200), Kritzeck (10th in the 100 hurdles, 15th in the 300 hurdles), Meier (tied for 10th in the high jump), Brandt (11th in the 1,600), Bolton (12th in the 3,200), Deshayes (14th in the 1,600) and Etter (15th in the 1,600).

Looking to help replace the contributions left by the graduation of Quinn Hunter (who placed ninth in the high jump at the section meet) and Simone Wolff (who placed 13th in the discus at the section meet) and provide depth are junior Nora Huber; sophomores Maari Clark, Kate Dravis, Ella Ehler, Rhianna Greenlee, Destiny Haddy, Madison Laferriere, Jordyn Ostlund and Aracely Quixan Gutierrez; freshmen Alessia Harmon and Emma Johnson; eighth graders Adrienne Cook, Cassidy Grewe, Macie Lichter, Anna Rickbeil and Whitney Seifert; and seventh graders Karah Albino, Olivia Budzien, Adelynn Devore, Joy Kreger, Makenna Maanum and Kimberly Ohm.

Even though the Panthers will have to replace the contributions of Johnson, Hunter and Wolff, Hill is counting on the experience gained last season and the addition of the newcomers to pay off with another successful season this spring.


“This team is well-rounded with a lot of new talent. We have depth in all 18 events with a great group of seniors as our leaders,” said Hill. “We have the ability to finish as one of the top teams I’ve ever coached.”


April 13 – at Plainview-Elgin-Millville Invitational, 11:30 a.m. April 18 - Park Rapids Invitational, 3:30 p.m. April 25 – Park Rapids Invitational, 3:30 p.m. April 28 – May Day Invitational at Walker, 3:30 p.m.

May 4 – at Detroit Lakes Invitational, 3:30 p.m. May 9 – Section 8AA True Team meet at Fergus Falls, 11:45 a.m. May 16 – Mid-State Conference meet at Pequot Lakes, 3 p.m. May 25 – Subsection 8A East meet at Walker, 12 noon.

June 2 – Section 8A meet at Roseau, 12 noon.

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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