STURGIS | With the Sturgis motorcycle rally taking center stage in the Key City for the next 10 days, Sturgis Brown High School boys and girls soccer teams started practice for the 2019 season on Monday.
Returning lettermen for the Scooper boys are seniors Gabe Nelson, defender; Gabe Rambow, defender; and Mason Neumiller, midfielder.
Juniors are Kale Dennis, midfielder; Jared Sailer, forward; Brodie Eisenbraun, defender; Jax Schuster, midfielder; Taylor Tobias, midfielder; and Kyle Cutt, midfielder.
Promising newcomers include juniors Thor Sundstrom, forward; Coy Fischer, goalie; Travis Cassen, defender; Brody Brink, defender; and sophomore Ray Henderson, midfielder.
Lost to graduation from the 2018 team were Carl Nash, Micah Ortiz, Dominic Oedekoven, Dawson Schieffer, Wyatt Engbrecht and Zane Atchison.
Tyler Louder returns as boys head coach at Sturgis Brown. "We have increased our wins and position in the standings every year since I've been coach at Sturgis," said Louder.
Conditioning and midfield play were listed as team strengths. "We're playing a new goalie for the first time in three years," said Louder of an area of concern.
"We play a lot of transition soccer, getting the ball up the field. We play really gritty and physical defense.
"We should compete for the top spot in the Black Hills Conference."
Louder said Rapid City Central and Spearfish will field strong teams in the area.
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"Our goals are to host a home playoff game, have a winning record, and score 30 goals during the season," he said.
Sturgis Brown returning girls letterwearers are: Seniors: Glory Christianson, defender; Mairen McGrath, defender; Ryan Conover, forward; and Autumn Cassen, midfielder; Juniors: Emilee Willey, midfielder; and McKenna Hosman, midfielder; Sophomore: Jessica Matthew, midfielder; and Ninth-grader: Maggie Brink, forward.
"We have a bunch of young eighth-graders," said coach Adam Fitzpatrick.
Lost to graduation were: Abby Aberle, Olivia Jolley, Gwyneth Simmons, Jordan Burge and Karissa Munger.
"We're coming in with girls the program has developed to have an impact," said Fitzpatrick.
The SBHS coach said midfield is the team strength. "We have three girls who can extend the play at midfield," he said. Youth is an area of concern. "We have some girls lacking varsity playing experience. Our goalie is a young eighth-grader."
The Scooper girls are defending BHC champions. "The BHC has a good group of teams," said Fitzpatrick. "Spearfish and Belle Fourche are always tough competition.
"Our goal is to win the Black Hills Conference."
Looking at the State level, "Rapid City Stevens always has a good program. Pierre has great coach and is always tough."
Sturgis Brown boys and girls teams open the season at Mitchell August 16 and Huron August 17. The home opener is August 27 versus Belle Fourche.