Amid track and field’s emphasis on individual accomplishment, it’s a deep sense of togetherness that makes the Prior Lake girls’ track program excel in running relay races.
They have gone as far as to adopt the saying “we are better together than anyone of us alone” this season. It’s that motto that leaves coach Scot Jaenicke smiling on a daily basis.
“We stress to our kids the importance of putting the team first,” Jaenicke said. The Lakers were the runner-up in the true-team state meet a year ago. “They know that their best shot to win is together.”
The Lakers’ 4x400-meter relay team is the Class 2A defending state champion. Their 4x800 relay squad was the state runner-up a year ago.
“It’s great when you have talented kids with lots of character who all get along so well with each other,” Jaenicke said. “When that group works hard, it makes my job easy.”
Jaenicke has half of each those relays back this season. Juniors Leah Amundson and Sabrina Hille are back from the 4x400 state championship group while juniors Mackenzie Schell and Macy Violett return from the 4x800 group. All four are running in those events again this year.
“All of our kids are there for each other, and would give credit to their teammates before taking it for themselves,” Jaenicke said.
That mentality has also rubbed off on its shorter relay teams. Both the 4x100 and 4x200 squads recently took first place in the Hamline Elite Meet. Amundson and Hille ran on the winning 4x200 team.
“The success we have had in the relays is because of the athletes we have had over the past five years,” Jaenicke said. “We’ve had at least three or four, and some years as many as six honor roll caliber athletes which has given us a lot of options and combinations in any of the relays.”
The Lakers’ 4x100 group is the only one of the four with seniors among the group. They are captains Elisa Bertoldi and Milana Walerius along with Sami Syonesa. Sophomore Sarah Schrader rounds out the foursome. They ran a personal best 50.21 seconds at Hamline.
“We all had excellent times and good exchanges,” Bertoldi said. “They might not have been perfect, but they were really good.”
Joining Amundson and Hille on the 4x200 team are juniors Alex Collins and Bolade Jinadu. The tandem are teamed with Jinadu and Violett to form the 4x400 squad. Rounding out the 4x800 group are junior Megan Hovick and eighth-grader Madi Scholl.
“We might not have the fastest girls on our relays, but we have very good groups,” Bertoldi said. “I have a lot of confidence in everyone of us.”