MFL MarMac girls track team brings back three state qualifiers

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Members of the MFL MarMac girls track team include (front, left to right) Kira Rieck, Maya Butikofer, Isabella Bogdonovich, Sadie Ewing, Ariella Kann-Caceres, Aleyna Rodriguez; (back) Avery Ihde, Mackenzy Ruff, Summer Schutte, Emily Knickerbocker, Emma Ammons, Hannah Schutte, Kayleen Fels and head coach Kylie Sandstrom. Not pictured is assistant coach Eliza Philpott. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Kylie Sandstrom had one goal when she took over as head coach of the MFL MarMac girls track team this year: to increase the number of participants. With 12 girls currently on the roster, a handful more than last year, she can already cross that off the list. 

Now, it’s time for another goal. That one, she said, is to simply be there for the kids. 

“I’m not here to benefit myself,” Sandstrom shared. “I’m here to benefit the kids—however I can push them to be better in the event they want to be in.” 

Sandstrom is no stranger to the sport. The 2004 MFL MarMac grad was the district’s first female Drake qualifier, as well as a three-time state participant. She also ran track at Wartburg College. She’s admittedly excited, yet nervous, about her first big coaching gig. 

Having three previous state qualifiers on the team—seniors Emma Ammons (shot and discus), Summer Schutte (400) and Hannah Schutte (400)—certainly makes it easier. 

“All three have a good chance of returning as long as we can have everyone remain healthy,” Sandstrom said. 

The team as a whole, though, is strong. Out of the 12, Sandstrom said many can contribute in big ways, including Sadie Ewing, Kira Rieck and Maya Butikofer. 

“The freshman all show signs of good stability on the team, whether it’s relays or individuals,” she added. 

Sandstrom said she welcomed each girl to select her favored events. Most gravitated toward sprints or mid-distance, rather than the long distances. 

“I understand, because I’m not a long-distance person, but I’m also going to push them,” she stated. “That’s my goal, to push them and get them out of their comfort zone so they know what they really like to do.” 

Some of that pushing began in the first week of practice, so Sandstorm could evaluate their abilities and fast track conditioning. So far, it’s all had to be indoors. 

“We’ve really been focusing on some speed training,” said Sandstrom. “I’m having them do some things they haven’t done in the past: a lot of resistance bands, a lot of high knees. I’m really trying to drive their feet up, so when they come out of the blocks, they have that driving force behind them.” 

Sandstrom is noticing growth already, and is excited to see where it takes her athletes. 

“To really see them grow and want to get to that finish line a little bit faster, I’m really excited to see that,” she shared. “I’m really excited to see a gal who doesn’t know her potential, then really exceeds her potential and what she can do.” 

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