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Patriots' fans won't forget the spring of 2013

We may never forget the way the 2013 spring sports season began. And Pequot Lakes’ sports fans will always remember how it ended.

First, there was a memorable delay to the start of the outdoor spring season due to the late winter conditions around the state. The snowfall and cold temperatures resulted in one of the most challenging outdoor conditions in recent memory. But the long wait to start the season was worth it for the Pequot Lakes’ athletic program.

Over a recent 10-day period, three Pequot Lakes’ girls’ teams captured section titles, including softball and girls’ track which were the first ever for each program. The Patriots’ girls’ golf team also returned to state for the second time in three years after dominating in Section 6AA.

Then last Saturday, June 8, the Patriots’ track team returned home with event titles – Vanessa Lane in the 100-meter dash and the 4x100 relay of Rachel Allen, Chloe Bermel, Abby Palmer and Lane. Also at state on Friday, June 7, Pequot Lakes’ Tyler Tappe finished second in the pole vault but did tie for the Class A meet record with a leap of 15 feet, 6 inches.

Following are some additional thoughts from the memorial section and state performances:

Mixed emotions at state meet

Brian Kazmierczak had mixed emotions coaching the Pequot Lakes girls at the state track meet last weekend at Hamline University.

Kazmierczak has watched the Patriots develop into one of the top girls’ teams in the state in recent years – finishing just three points from being a top four program in Class A.

But after four years as an assistant and the past four years as head coach, Kazmierczak will be leaving to accept a promotion of principal at Barnum High School.

“I will miss everyone, but I will keep an eye on Pequot Lakes’ track and field,” said Kazmierczak, who hopes to someday return to coaching. “I would be willing to help out the new coach from a distance away. I am definitely excited about the future of the program.”

Lane said the admirable performance at the section and state meets were “neat” for the Patriots to do for Kazmierczak.

“It was hard to hear that he’s leaving,” she said. “It gave us more drive because it was his last season with us. He has been my coach since I was in sixth grade. He has always so helpful, and he has done so much for the program.”

State softball memories

Pequot Lakes, making their first state appearance in program history, was defeated by Hermantown 4-1 in the quarterfinals and by St. Anthony Village 11-0 in the consolation semifinals at North Mankato on Thursday, June 6.

The Patriots had an admirable 19-4 record and their first Section 6AA title. But playing at state helped the Patriots realize the value of tournament experience as Hermantown was making its 19th trip to state and St. Anthony Village advanced for the sixth time in eight years.

“(State) was a good experience,” Pequot Lakes’ coach Bret Sergent said as he packed up equipment after the tournament. “We saw how good the teams are at state, and how well they execute. We’re a good team, but we need to step it up a level, and get better at the little things.”

Senior outfielder Jessica Kreitz agreed.

“Things didn’t go our way down here, but we did make history,” Kreitz said of the team’s first trip to state. “I will always remember this season. (State) was a good way to end the year.”