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Haley Kempf of Fremont Bergan competes in the Class C long jump during the 2018 state track meet at Omaha Burke. Kemp went 16-2 3/4 and finished sixth. The senior and junior Allie DeGroff are returning state qualifiers for the Lady Knights. 

Fremont Bergan just finished its boys basketball season on Saturday, but the Knights have shifted gears getting ready for their track opener.

Bergan will compete Friday in the Concordia Invitational at Seward.

Earlier this month, Bergan won the girls Class D-1 state basketball championship. Just last week, the boys finished as the D-1 runner-up. The winter weather has also made preseason practices a challenge.

“Most of our kids were missing practice anyway for state title runs in winter sports,” Bergan coach TJ Folkers said. “The kids that were here did general conditioning utilizing our gym, hallways, the PAD and Hopkins (Arena).”

There are 26 boys and nine girls on the teams, including five returning state qualifiers.

Dre Vance returns after competing at Omaha Burke last spring in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. The senior, who led the Knights in scoring in the championship game Saturday against Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, also earned a 14th-place medal last fall at the Class D state cross country meet.

“I know he’s ready to go,” Folkers said. “He was the only kid who didn’t want to take any time off after the state finals. He’s our distance leader and has been the last few years. Our new distance coach, Tyler Craven, will push him to get some more state medals to add to his cross country and basketball state medals.”

Fellow senior Grant Frickenstein earned a fourth-place state medal in the high jump last spring. He is also coming off a memorable basketball season.

“Grant doesn’t stop lifting,” Folkers said. “He has more power in his legs. Assuming his approach and timing is consistent, he should be able to improve his 6-4 performance from state last year.”

Junior Ethan Villwok was 10th in the triple jump at state in 2018. He is also a Fremont Tribune All-Area football performer and a third-place state medalist at 182 pounds in wrestling.

“Ethan is freakishly gifted,” Folkers said. “He could excel in any sport or event. He took a break last year from pole vaulting to rest a hip flexor. He’ll be back in the triple jump, pole vault and sprints this year.”

Additional help in the jumps will come from junior Jake Ridder and sophomore Shea Gossett. Senior Caleb Villwok will lead the throwers while Midland football recruit Jacob Johnson, a state champion in wrestling, will be the top hurdler. Two freshmen, Koa McIntyre and Chris Pinales, are the team’s top sprinters.

“Our depth looks good again,” Folkers said. “We should be able to fill just about every event. We need to replace some points from the hurdles and throws, but we have some new kids and others who have matured to compete in all meets again.”

The Knights have claimed 18 meet championships and have been second eight times in the past four seasons.

Senior Haley Kempf and junior Allie DeGroff are the returning state qualifiers for the girls.

Kempf placed sixth in the Class C long jump at state last spring. She also qualified in the triple jump.

“Haley hates to lose,” Folkers said. “I don’t think she was satisfied with her performance at state last year. She will be hungry to add to her volleyball and basketball state gold medals.”

DeGroff qualified as a sophomore in the shot put.

“Allie made huge strides last year and got a taste of state,” Folkers said. “She will be one to watch this year.”

Jadin Ostrand will lead the Lady Knights’ distance crew. The sophomore qualified for state cross country in the fall. Folkers also likes the potential of junior middle distance runner Kaia McIntyre.

“Kaia will be successful in whatever event she ends up competing in,” he said. “She has been healthy all year and is looking to be more of a mid-distance runner. She’s got a full tank of gas and is maybe the toughest competitor on the girls team.”

Other athletes who could make an impact include Lily Bojanski in the pole vault and sophomore Lauren Baker in the sprints and jumps.

“Folkers believes the indoor meet is a good way for Bergan to start the season.

“Most of our kids are coming off state competitions and have had minimal practice time,” he said. “Nobody will be loaded up with events. It’s a good meet to gauge where we’re at and get some live races, jumps, and throws.”

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