Tschantz inherits talented squad
New coach. Same team.
The Washington girls’ track and field team has a new head coach this season after Howard Bean retired after 13 seasons, but the Demons return almost everybody from last spring’s successful squad.
“I’m very excited,” first-year head coach Stefanie Tschantz said. “We’ve got a lot of talent.”
Tschantz ran 400s and 800s as a senior at Washington High School during Bean’s first season as the Demons’ head coach in 2000. She spent the last 10 years as Bean’s assistant before taking over as Washington’s head coach this season.
Tschantz inherits a loaded squad. Washington took seven events to state last season, and only lost one athlete from that group — Regan Enfield, who is now a member of the Mount Mercy University women’s track and field squad — to graduation.
Lauren Kimball, who cleared a personal-best height of 5-1 to become a surprise qualifier for state last year — and then cleared 5-2 at state to take sixth place — is back for her senior season. She’s joined in the event by senior Sammy Ellingson, who didn’t make it to state last year, but has an impressive résumé. Ellingson is a three-time Southeast Conference champion in the high jump and a Drake Relays qualifier. She also qualified for state as a freshman and a sophomore, clearing 5-3 as a freshman to take third place.
Along with Ellingson, Stephanie Fishback was a conference champion last spring, winning the 400-meter dash. She also qualified for state in the event as a sophomore, taking 12th place in a personal-best time of 1:00.77.
Fishback was also a member of two state-qualifying relay teams. The sprint medley relay team of Maddie Bohr, Natalee Enfield, Macy Marek and Fishback finished 22nd at state, and all four runners are back this season. The 4x400 relay team of Regan Enfield, Kimball, Mariah Reighard and Fishback came in 23rd at state, with only Enfield not returning this spring.
The shuttle hurdle relay team of Regan Enfield, Kaitlin Buchholz, Ellingson and Kimball finished 12th at state last spring and only lost Enfield from that group.
Dema Giardino qualified for state in the 100-meter dash last year as a sophomore, finishing 22nd.
Tschantz is also expecting a big season out of senior Joni Erwin, who finished third in the shot put and fourth in the discus at last year’s Southeast Conference meet.
Tschantz is excited to have those athletes back, as well as many younger runners. There are 40 girls out for the squad this season.
“We have most of our state qualifiers back, and some of the ones who ran JV are back, and I’ve already noticed improvement there,” she said. “I’m excited to see those things.”
Junior Grace Redlinger is back out for the squad after not running last season. And sophomore Lauren Swan is back out for track after playing soccer last season. She was an outstanding thrower in junior high.
The Demons also add a number of talented freshmen this spring. As eighth-graders, the group won six of its seven meets last spring, only finishing second once.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the freshmen, so I’m hoping to see how they fit into the varsity picture,” Tschantz said.
The team started practice on Feb. 11, but Tschantz hasn’t changed much from the way the team operated under Bean.
“I’m sure I’m going to do certain things differently,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what. I’m just trying to see how the season goes.”
She hopes that by the end of the season many of her athletes are competing at the state track meet in Des Moines.
“It is very exciting,” Tschantz said. “I’m ready to get the season going.”