“It was a great year,” Hagen said. “I feel that with a little more effort from the guys on their own time, they could become a very difficult team to beat.”
The women’s team was hit hard by graduation and does not possess depth comparable to the men.
But Hagen’s objective is the same for both teams: “Our goal for both men and women this year is to get enough practice in to be able to compete at our full potential, to give ourselves the best chance to win each match, and to strive for a conference title.”
With the graduation of all-conference first-teamer Ashlee Helmley and three others, the women’s squad is depleted after a fourth-place finish in the conference tournament.
“Last season we had four girls graduate and another transfer out, so this year we will be a young team with many new faces,” Hagen said. “It;s definitely not easy to replace five girls in one class.”
Laurel Delamater, KCAC “Player of the Year,” is the team’s only returning senior.
Sophomores Amanda Wann and Stefani Welz are the team’s only other returning players. They will be joined by freshmen Jaimie Williams, Katie Chlumsky and Rosa Jones.
Basketball standout Stacie Herman has also joined the team.
Circumstances were considerably kinder to the men’s team; the squad did not lose a player to graduation.
The Bluejays have three all-conference players on the roster: Emerson Kochem, Aaron Friesen and Chad Gayer.
Kochem, a sophomore, was one of two conference “Freshmen of the Year” and was selected to the all-KCAC first team. Friesen and Gayer were feted as second-teamers and enter their junior seasons.
“It is very important on our guys’ team that the Nos. 3 to 6 players get recognition as well, as those are the spots that allow us to win matches,” Hagen said.
With the elite talent at the top of the roster, Hagen hopes juniors Jason Reiswig, Shane Miller and Scott Adrian will solidify the team’s top six.
“We are a very deep team with about 14 guys that could play,” Hagen said. “That gives us great flexibility to plug somebody in if we are not getting the production we want.”
Among those making a case for playing time are freshmen Kyle de Blonk and Nick Smallwood.
“Both guys are going to contribute to this squad—possibly this year,” Hagen said. “They are both great additions to our team. They are guys that I know can step in and compete with our established players at any time and give them a run,” he added.
Nick Glanzer, Andy Adrian, and Hillsboro products Macy Fadenrecht and Kyle Kroeker round out the roster.
“That depth is definitely nice to have,” he said.
Hagen said that while depth is a great strength, the team is not without weaknesses.
“When the weather is nice, it seems like we still enjoy video games, movies, our girlfriends, and everything else more often than we put time into getting better,” he said. “I would love to see our guys show more passion to get better on their own time.”