Belle Plaine’s boys and girls’ track programs once again appear to be the class of the Minnesota River Conference.
Both teams opened the season by winning the conference indoor championships on March 23 at the Minnesota State University Mankato. They both also won the outdoor championships last spring.
“The meet was held over spring break, so every team was missing athletes, but we were pleased with some of the new faces that were able to compete for us,” Belle Plaine girls’ coach Rich Foust said. “Last year was a very successful season for the girls’ program.”
The girls’ team accumulated 205.5 points, outdistancing runner-up Mayer Lutheran with 87.5 points.
Freshman Jenna Gatz won the 200-meter dash and also was on the winning 4x400 and spring medley relay teams. The Tigers had four other individual winners.
“We have high expectations for the girls’ team this year as we have a nice mixture of experienced athletes with a talented group of younger girls to add depth,” Foust said.
The boys’ team won with 154.38 points, followed by Jordan with 137.88 points.
Senior Nick Eliason took first place in two individual events, winning the 55 and 200 dashes.
“Overall, I was very pleased with our first meet of the season,” Belle Plaine boys’ coach Adam Smith said. “The boys’ team had a couple of guys new to the team score some big points for us. Our veterans also performed nicely.”
Chris Sikich of Apple Valley is moving up the boys’ hockey high school coaching ranks. The Eagles’ assistant coach for the last 11 years has been promoted to head coach.
Sikich served as an assistant coach under Jerry Hayes, who retired in March after 15 seasons at the helm of the program. The Eagles went 6-21-0 this past season.
Sikich graduated from the school in 1996. He helped the Eagles to the Class 2A state championship that season, serving as one of the team captains. They defeated Edina 3-2 in the finals.
He is currently coaching the Eagles’ softball team.
Hall comes knocking
John Barger, a Farmington native, was inducted into the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame during the weekend of the boys’ state tournament in St. Paul. Barger, who lives in Lakeville, coached at the high school level for 28 years.
Barger began his prep coaching career at Northfield High School in 1977. He also coached at Austin, Brainerd, Burnsville, New Prague, St. Louis Park and Jamestown, N.D. He won four conference championships and was the runner-up seven times in his career.