Minot High track and field coach Disa Salander figured her throwers would be strong this season.
She was right.
The Majettes have qualified four throwers for the state meet - three in the discus, two in the shot put and one in the javelin. Juniors Jessica Drady and MacKenzie Gleason own the top two discus throws in the state this year. Drady's toss of 128 feet, 5 inches is best in the state and Gleason is second at 125-9. Both marks came at the Majette Invite on May 1.
The discus has been one of the Minot High girls track and field team’s best events this season as three throwers have qualified for the state meet.
"Right now it seems like we're the strongest in the discus," Salander said. "Our discus seems to come out the hardest right now."
Gleason finished third at state in the discus last year and Drady was sixth.
Junior Melora Haagenson joined Drady and Gleason as the third discus thrower to qualify for state. She qualified at the Majette Invite with a toss of 117-02.
"I did expect a lot of success from everybody that went to state last year because we know what it feels like to go to state and we know what it feels like to be a competitor," Gleason said. "I was expecting us to be able to qualify, but I wasn't expecting this much because we have done amazingly well in throwing and I'm amazed at who else is qualifying."
Minot's biggest competition in the discus is West Fargo's Keely Walker and Century's Whitney Perrin. Walker, who the Majettes saw for the first time on Monday at the Fargo Rotary, holds four of the top eight marks. Her best distance of 125-4 is good for third in the state. Perrin is right behind her with a mark of 124-0.
Drady and Gleason have qualified for state in other events as well. Drady owns Minot's best score in the javelin at 111-8, which ranks ninth in the state. Gleason will also compete in the shot put at state, qualifying with a mark distance of 37-7.
"Our field events are pretty strong, especially compared to other years," Drady said. "We have so many qualifiers right now and I feel really confident going into these next couple weeks with the big meets at WDA and state. We can really do well there."
Gleason won't be the only Minot competitor in the shot put as senior Else Nelson has the Majettes' best mark at 38-10. Nelson has six state-qualifying tosses. She finished fifth at state last year.
"Else Nelson has come a long way," Salander said. "She's just getting into it now. Last year, she peaked at state and we're hoping for the same thing this year."
Both Drady and Gleason credit the coaching staff for their success.
"We have excellent coaches," Gleason said. "Coaches that have pushed us from the very beginning. Coaches that believe in us a lot. Salander pushes me and Drady a lot and I'm so thankful for it."
Majettes' pitching staff hitting stride
The Minot High softball team has been using the same pitching formula all season long and it is starting to come together as its season reaches the midway point.
Senior Lexi Benno and sophomore Cassie Askvig have started in all six of Minot's doubleheaders, with Benno usually tossing the opener and Askvig pitching the finale.
"Cassie's doing a great job as a sophomore," Minot coach Gerard Cederstrom said. "You couldn't ask for much more. And Lexi's working through some tough times right now, but she's still competing. These two go out and compete and that's big."
Askvig has won her last five starts, including victories against Bismarck and Century. She limited the Patriots to five hits in a 5-4 victory on April 17 and tossed a three-hitter in an 11-1 win against Jamestown on Friday.
"I've learned a lot," Askvig said. "Little things and techniques have always been a big deal. Being coached about that is helpful. They're very confident and believe in us and it helps out a lot on the mound."
Benno struggled in the first half of the season but appears to have corrected the problem if Saturday's outing against Devils Lake is any indication. Benno scattered seven hits and struck out four in a 12-2 victory over the Firebirds.
"That helped a lot," Benno said. "I needed that. It hasn't been a start for me so that felt good."
Said Cederstrom: "She's feeling better. She's not where she wants to be and I don't know if I've coached any kid that's worked harder in any sport. She puts in a lot of time so it's frustrating for her to not do as well as she thinks she should be."
Even during Benno's rough patch, she's always had a positive effect on the team.
"She's really taught me that every time on the mound you keep going and don't give up," Askvig said. "You don't get down on yourself. You just have to push through some rough games."
The Majettes (8-6 overall, 4-4 West Region) have won six of eight after a 2-4 start.
Jacob to pitch for Minot State
Minot High senior Chandler Jacob will continue his baseball career at Minot State next year. The program made the signing official on Tuesday.
Jacob, who was named all-West Region as a junior, becomes the fifth Minot native on the Beavers' roster.
"It's special," Jacob said. "It's been a dream for a long time to go somewhere and play college baseball. I'm not glad it's over, but it's relieving that it's over so now I can just go out and play baseball."
This season, Jacob is hitting .434 with eight RBIs and three triples. Jacob is expected to join MSU's pitching staff. With the Magicians, he has tossed 13 1/3 innings, sporting a 1-1 record with a 1.46 ERA and 19 strikeouts.
"I would compare him to an Austin Zorn type of pitcher," MSU coach Brock Weppler said in a press release. "He definitely has that kind of upside. He's going to throw strikes and has some good off-speed. He can throw off-speed any count and really challenges hitters."
Minot coach Pete Stenberg said Jacob is more than deserving to play at the next level.
"Chandler's been one of our leaders," he said. He's been with us since he's a sophomore. For him it's a nice relief. He's earned that position out on a college baseball team and he's going to do fine there. I congratulate him and I hope we get a few others following in his footsteps either this year or next year."
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.