Girls Track and Field: Strong senior group highlights the Warrior girls

The Brainerd Warriors Girls Track and Field Preview for 2023.

Brainerd Track and Field practice Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Athletes work out on elliptical machines during Brainerd Track and Field practice Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Experience is what the Brainerd Warriors bring to the 2023 season.

With eight returning state participants from last year, Warriors head coach Ashley Rutman feels like her team is in a good spot.

“I think our senior group has been the heart of our team for a very long time,” Rutman said. “It’s our biggest group of athletes and it’s also been some of the talent that’s been a part of our team for several years. So I think it’s exciting to have a lot of them coming back. I think I’m just more excited about what the year holds, especially for this senior group.”

Senior Brenna Deason highlights the returners as she participated in three events in the Class 3A State Meet last year. She finished 13th in the 100-meter dash and sixth in the pole vault in 11-foot-3 at state. Deason was also a member of the 4x100 relay which got disqualified at state.

“I think for Brenna it’s hard because she is so talented that you can plug her into a lot of things,” Rutman said. “There have been seasons where we have talented relays and we have foregone the individual events and placed her on those relay teams. Coming into this season, I think it’s going to be about keeping her healthy and prioritizing the events that she feels are going to be the hot events for her. I know after the state meet last year she was really excited to get back there and compete at that high level again.”


Seniors Kate Stadum and Molly Hagelie return from the state 4x100 relay team. Myah Nelson was the lone graduated member from the state relay team.

“Ava Loney was a part of that crew too and got to see what the state meet was like,” Rutman said. “She is young and will be a part of our team this year. She’s done some form work too that I think will make her faster. Hopefully she can plug into that spot and they can have the same amount of success they’ve had the last couple of years.”

Brainerd Track and Field practice Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Returning state athletes Molly Hagelie, back left, Emily Bastian, Madi Miller, Kate Stadum, front left, Brooke Wenz and Brenna Deason pose for a photo during Brainerd Track and Field practice Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at Brainerd High School. Not pictured are state returners Annelise Baird and Bridget Collins.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Stadum, Hagelie and senior Emma Sheflo will all be sprinters leading the Warriors. Sheflo also does the longer sprints.

“Those three have been essential members of our team and this senior group especially when we get into those championship scenarios,” Rutman said. “I think they have been reliable in those high stakes meets and handle the baton nicely and know their roles. They just want the team to do well and have been core members of our relay teams.”

The Warriors have a strong long distance contingent returning. The 4x800 relay team of Emily Bastian, Annelise Baird, Brooke Wenz and Bridget Collins all return after finishing 14th at state last year.

Another distance runner is Madi Miller, who went to state in the 1600 run last year.

Ashley Rutman
Ashley Rutman
Kelly Humphrey

“We had a strong cross-country season and many of those kids are a part of our track team,” Rutman said. “Brooke Wenz, Annelise Baird, who had an incredible ski season, Madi Miller and even Julia Radmacher, who is a senior, runs that longer distance and has been a good contributor for us.”

Hannah Drietz, who comes off a successful cross-country season in the fall, as well as Katelyn Kennedy, are two other long distance runners Rutman is excited about.


“Some of our distance crew is a little more of our younger talent,” Rutman said. “Last year, when we were heading into sections we had a lot of kids bidding for a spot on the 4x800 relay team. Really those four girls are solid runners and are coming into this year looking strong and competitive again. We certainly have some other 800 runners who are just as talented. It makes for an interesting scenario.

“Hannah Drietz is entering with a lot of miles under her belt and looks strong and healthy. I think she will be very competitive in the long-distance races, especially the 3200. Katelyn Kennedy had a standout season last year and will run the 800 and mile. She looks stronger and as she gets older I think things are coming together.”

In field events, the Warriors graduated Hanna Caughey who went to state in both the shot put and discus last year. Rutman is currently searching for throwers to replace Caughey.

“That group is kind of in flux right now,” Rutman said. “Isabelle Ploof is a freshman who practiced with us at the end of last year. She is a pretty incredibly strong addition to our throws. Once she understands the technique, I think she will have some impressive throws in the discus. Ellie Brown came out last year and ran, but is going to prioritize these field events and has been with the throwers and is really excited about the season. Anna Tupy, who is a senior, has been a part of throws too and saw incredible gains last year in both the shot put and discus.”

Lilly Birks graduated and she participated in the high jump at state. Sophomore Lauren Castle should plug in at the high jump for Brainerd.

Alyssa Schommer will be in the triple jump and the high jump. Bastian will fit into some different events as well as long distance running.

“It’ll be fun to see if (Castle) can gain some more height in the high jump,” Rutman said. “Schommer is finding her niche in the field events as well and I think it’ll be interesting to watch her. Bastian is one of our long distance runners, but each year she’s gotten stronger and is gaining mental toughness, so I think as a senior it’ll be interesting to see what events we prioritize for her.”

In the hurdles, senior Violet Goodwin is the one to watch, but also can fit into other events.


“She is a fantastic hurdler,” Rutman said. “She came on at the end of last year and was all of the sudden running these incredible 200s as well. I think she found that she is good at other things besides hurdling, so you might find her in other open events and relays.”

There is a group of freshmen who Rutman said got varsity time as eighth-graders last year who she is excited about.

“Cora Clough and Avery Duerr both came up as eighth-graders and competed in our conference meet last year,” Rutman said. “They actually performed really well and will be a part of our team this spring. Cora is a sprinter and does high jump, but I think it’ll be interesting to see what other events we can get her in. Avery can run anything from an 800 to a 200 and can also do hurdles. She will be one of those muli-events athletes who will be fun to watch and she had a successful swim season.”

Rutman said even though they lost some of their stronger athletes, she expects them to be super competitive in the Central Lakes Conference and in Section 8-3A.

“When you look at a lot of events I think we have good representation in many of them,” Rutman said. “Lots of strong athletes, it'll be fun to see them compete against the conference teams and section teams because I think they are a really talented bunch. I think we will be in the top three again, at least that’s my hope as a coach. I think we have the athletes to do that. With sections, I think we will be competitive in that and I hope we have some athletes who will be advancing to state and I can see some of those event groups advancing.”

Seniors: Alison Bachman, Emily Bastian, Ellie Brown, Brenna Deason, Marcella Dircks, Hannah Drietz, Violet Goodwin, Molly Hagelie, Gethsemane Hiltner, Katelyn Kennedy, Ashtyn Kubista, Alexis Lugo, Julia Rademacher, Elianna Riley, Cally Robertson, Malina Schiller, Emma Sheflo, Kate Stadum, Anna Tupy, Meghan Wirtz
Juniors: Scarlett Anderson, Matia Bruggeman, Bridget Collins, Annika Gearey, Ella Ostrowski, Addie Ryan, Alyssa Schommer, Racine Schommer, Anja Storbakken, Abigail Tanner
Sophomores: Madilyn Bertram, Lauren Castle, Nola Doty, Lilian Fjeld, Ava Loney, Madi Miller, Payton Miller, Rainah O’Connell, Elizabeth Rademacher, Autumn Schiller, Madelyn Scheider, Bridget Wells, Brooke Wenz
Freshmen: Annelise Baird, Gabriella Bratney, Serena Caspers, Brianna Cherne, Cora Clough, Lilly DeRosier, Avery Duerr, Hattie Duininck, Brenna Foy, Audrey Hastings, Josie Baillon, Julia Phillips, Isabelle Ploof, Danika Ramler, Kara Schlegel, Natalie Smith, Isabelle Wagner

Girls track and field
Head coach: Ashley Rutman, 11th year (fourth year as head Brainerd coach, 1 year assistant at Brainerd, 3 years assistant at Hopkins, 1 year junior high coach at St. Cloud, 2 years volunteer assistant at Hopkins and Brainerd)
2022 finish: 2nd in CLC, 2nd in Section 8-3A meet, 29th at Class 3A state
Assistant coaches: Rod Reuer (sprinters), Kris Smith (long and triple jumps), Dave Herath (distance), Robb Kolodziej (pole vault), Landon Brainerd (high jump), Kelsi Brusehaver (hurdles), Travis Raske (sprint), Will Riley (throws), Tracy Riley (throws), Brady Rutman (volunteer distance)

Warrior schedule
Saturday, April 1: Central Lakes Conference Indoor Championship, St. John’s University 9 a.m.
April 13: Brainerd Quadrangular 4 p.m.
April 21: at Sartell Triangular 4 p.m.
April 25: Brainerd Triangular 4 p.m.
April 28: Hamline Elite, St. Paul 5:30 p.m.
May 5: at Wayzata Relays 3:30 p.m.
May 9: Section 8-3A True Team meet at Brainerd 3 p.m.
May 16: at Sauk Rapids Triangular 4 p.m.
May 23: Central Lakes Conference Championship at Sartell 3 p.m.
May 31: Section 8-3A Prelims at Brainerd 3 p.m.
June 3: Section 8-3A Finals at St. Michael-Albertville 11 a.m.
June 8-10: Class 3A State Track and field meet
Prelims 9 a.m. Thursday, June 8
Finals 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10


CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
What To Read Next
Get Local