Fall sports nearing the end

The 2017 Fall sports season is drawing to a close, with one cross country runner - Hayden DeGross, and the Trojan girls Swim and Dive team the lone survivors as we begin November action.

It was a mixed bag of sorts for Trojan teams this fall. The boys and girls soccer teams, both under new coaches, struggled at times, but also put on some good performances. Perhaps most promising was a stretch of four games where the Trojan boys allowed just one goal - in a 1-0 overtime loss to a very strong Rochester Mayo team. And just to prove their point, the team lost by one goal to top-seeded Mayo again in the Section 1AA playoffs. Coach Gospel Kordah’s second season with the team is one where the squad hopes to see marked improvement.

The girls soccer team also had some strong showings, but also took their lumps at times. Coach Matt Anderson had a young squad this year - only three seniors on the squad, and should have an experienced team looking to improve again in 2018.

Another new coach, Jake Norby, saw his football squad run into a buzz saw of a schedule. The Trojans had four teams on their schedule that were all ranked as high as No. 3 in their class at times this season. Of the nine teams the Trojans faced, five will be in action this weekend playing for state tournament berths - Rochester Century, Owatonna, Mankato West, Waconia and Winona. The Trojans played well early in the season, but injuries took their toll down the stretch and they finished with a 2-7 record, identical to last season. A strong senior class graduates, but there are a number of underclassmen who saw significant playing time this season and should help the Trojans take the next step in the coming year.

The Trojan volleyball team closed a successful 2017 season in the second round of the Section 2AAA tournament, losing to No. 10-ranked Shakopee in four sets. After a rough start against tough competition, the team closed strong, going on a 13-match winning streak at one point. Coach Angie Andersen’s team has a number of talented underclassmen returning and are looking to step up in 2018.

New Prague’s cross country teams had good showings at the conference and section levels, and as mentioned before, senior Hayden DeGross qualified to run in this weekend’s state meet. Coaches Nick Meyer (boys) and Shawn Brandt (girls) have dedicated squads that continue to work hard and improve each season.

Coach Anna Borwege’s girls tennis team had an inexperienced squad after graduating a number of seniors last season, but they came together as the season progressed and the team won its first section match. In addition, two entries advanced beyond the first round in the section team meet.

Coach Tracy Torgerson’s girls swim and dive team enjoyed its first season in their new home, the New Prague Aquatic Center. The team is still young and inexperienced, but things should get better for the Trojans as the new Neptune Swimming and Diving Club begins to develop young talent. For years, the vast majority of swimmers on the team never got their start in competitive swimming until they started with the high school program, and many of those athletes would drop out by the time they got to their senior seasons. With the new pool and new programming, look for the team to show marked improvement over the next few seasons.

The girls will compete next week at the Section 2AA meet in Minnetonka. This will be the team’s first crack at Class AA post-season competition, and will give the Trojans an idea of where they need to be in order to continue to progress.

Even as we start closing the books on the 2017 fall season, the 2017-18 winter season is underway. It will be an interesting winter season, with four of the eight sports having rookie head coaches (boys and girls basketball, girls hockey and dance). In addition, growing enrollment finds the boys and girls hockey teams and wrestling team join the other sports in competing at the highest level of competition. New Prague is no longer the biggest kid on the block, enrollment wise. Instead, they will be one of the smallest schools in the largest division. That will make post-season success harder to come by, but the coaches and athletes see the changes as a challenge that they will work to overcome.