PREVIEW: Familiar coach takes over young Panther squad

The Monticello High School girls track and field team, first row from left: Olivia Kremer, Lizzie Petersen, Jaelynn Kraus, Brianna Burmahl, Makenna Patterson, Lauren Bader and Amelia Anderson. Second row: Piper Hansen, Kristen Roher, Emma Spersflage, Leah Holub, Reese Cox, Jordan Norton, Abby Guilford and Kendall Ruden. Third row: manager Josephine Van Ahsen, Tori McDonald, Lauren Lambert, Karle Kramer, Lydia Recker, Payton Jaeger, Skyleigh Husmann, Jaelyn Graver, Maddie Stadtmueller and Kayla Simmons. Fourth row: assistant coach Jenna Peters, Emma Hynick, Faith Hansen, Emily Schlarmann, Bronwyn Hodge, Gabrielle Steiner, Makayla Coffey, Kylee Van Dorn, Cora Mescher and coach Vallerie Lynn. Not pictured are Sydney Ballou, Kehde Campbell, Allison Barnhart, Triniti Etzel and manager Allie Riches. (Photos by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     It’s definitely not the first rodeo for new Monticello High School girls track and field coach Vallerie Lynn.

     After all, she was head coach at Cascade for six years, and assistant coach at Dubuque Senior for nine. Also at Senior, she was head cross country coach for four seasons.

     And she’s definitely familiar with Monticello; Lynn was assistant girls track coach here for three years, and has been a physical education teacher and assistant cross country coach at MHS since 2008.

     It’s also familiar that the team she inherited has huge numbers – 38 girls are out for the team.

     “There is a lot of untapped potential on this team, and if the girls work hard, they can accomplish big things,” Lynn said.

     The Panthers lost several of their top athletes to graduation last year, but return eight letter-winners, including three who competed at the state meet last year.

     Junior Gabrielle Steiner was part of the state champion 4x800 relay team and competed in three events overall at State. Sophomore Gabby Guilford competed in two individual events and two relays, including a ninth place finish in the high jump. Emily Schlarmann ran in the 3,000 in Des Moines.

     Also back are senior sprinter/hurdler/long jumper Jaelynn Kraus, senior thrower Bri Burmahl, junior thrower Payton Jaeger, junior sprinter Leah Holub, and sophomore hurdler/mid-distance runner Tori McDonald.

     “We are very young and inexperienced,” coach Lynn said. “Right now we are still trying to figure out how everybody fits together and belongs on this team.”

     All of it is designed to prepare for the three most important events of the season: the River Valley Conference meet, state qualifying meet, and State.

     As far as the conference, Lynn said it “is probably the most balanced it has been. There are about five top teams that bring some strengths to the mix.”

     The season, she said, is a process.

     “We are going to work hard but we are also going to have fun,” Lynn said. “My goal is that each girl on this team becomes a strong, confident, caring and healthy young woman.”

     She is assisted by Jenna Peters.



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