Featuring two 2013 district runner-up teams, Borgia seeks success in five different sports this spring.
Borgia’s baseball and girls soccer teams placed second in district competition last spring. The school also fields track, boys golf and boys volleyball programs during the spring season.
Rob Struckhoff’s baseball Knights came within an out of upsetting eventual state champion Westminster Christian Academy in the district championship game.
However, Borgia had to settle for the 15-7 season after a 4-3 defeat.
Borgia opens varsity action in the Four Rivers Spring Classic next week, opening Monday against Wright City at 4:30 p.m.
That will be the first game on Borgia’s new field, which features a turf infield and grass outfield. The Knights intend to play all home games there this season.
“We work to get better every day,” Struckhoff said. “We are relatively inexperienced so improvement all the time is key.”
Borgia opened the preseason with a scrimmage at Sullivan.
“The scrimmage at Sullivan went all right,” Struckhoff said. “We learned that we have plenty to get better at, but who doesn’t this time of year. Our positions are wide open right now. Players know things can change day-to-day so they need to work all the time.”
The Knights have a number of key returning players with junior Spencer Juergens and seniors Tyler Murray and Mitchell Hammack at pitcher.
Juergens also plays third base and Hammack plays first base.
Other returners are senior Justin Horace at third base, senior Todd Kleekamp at second base and junior Nate Hillermann in the outfield.
Borgia also benefits from a number of players who gathered playing time at the younger ranks and also played extensive summer ball. Several were in the Washington Post 218 American Legion team.
Struckhoff indicated senior Jacob Wunderlich could push for playing time at second base or designated hitter.
Juniors looking to push for positions are John Himmelberg (shortstop, outfield, pitcher), Justin Baylard (catcher), Evan Ayers (pitcher, outfield), Jacob Grellner (pitcher) and Justin Molitor (outfield).
Young players looking for playing time are sophomores Trey Hunter (outfield) and Zach Marquart (outfield, pitcher, catcher) and freshman Gus Kleekamp (shortstop).
Struckhoff is being assisted by Spencer Unnerstall, Andrew Eggert, Marty Struckhoff, Andrew Alfermann, Michael Pelster and Scott Jones this season.
Struckhoff sees all league games as being important this season as well as games against Washington, Pacific and Union.
Grant Kang’s soccer Lady Knights are looking to rebound from a 7-12 record last season.
“We need to reverse our record as compared to last season by improving the quality of our defending, and by having a more productive attack,” said Borgia Head Coach Grant Kang. “This year, our team is more athletic and generally more technical, so we have the potential to meet our team goals.”
Borgia did play in one of the state’s toughest conferences, the Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division, and that had something to do with the final record.
St. Dominic won the Class 2 state championship last year while Duchesne was the Class 1 state champion and Rosati-Kain made the Class 2 semifinals.
Borgia’s postseason experience ended long before that with a loss to Union in the district championship match.
Kang returns as Borgia’s head coach this season and has a number of experienced players back.
Key returners for the Lady Knights include Emily Grahl, Janie Arand, Molly Arand, Allie Wilson, Rachel Kren, Bethany Haskins, Katherine Mudd, Wendy Wrocklage, Morgan Dillon, Maggie Donnelly and Parker Wehking.
Additionally, junior Maddie Toelke returns to the team this season. She played on the varsity as a freshman.
Four current freshmen, Haley Herbst, Ann Mantia, Chelsea Pohl and Natalie Ruether, also have made the varsity squad.
“I do not remember when we have had four freshmen make the varsity team,” Kang said.
Kang is being assisted this year by Jordan Pennington and Andrew Allen.
Kang sees several key fixtures on the schedule outside of the conference, including matches against Union, Duchesne, Visitation, St. Dominic, St. Pius, Washington, Helias and the Francis Howell/St. Dominic tournament.
Borgia starts the season on the road Tuesday against Union at Stierberger Stadium. That will be Union’s first game on its new turf field. Union’s first boys game last fall also was against Borgia.
Stacia Parsell’s track Lady Knights captured one state medal last spring as senior Emily Grahl placed fifth in the 800-meter run finals.
“We are looking for Emily Grahl to return to the state meet in May,” Parsell said. “Katie Eime should have a great season for the long and high jumps. Baylee Godat has been working hard at both hurdle events. Megan Jensen will lead the girls in the throwing events.”
Parsell indicated Hannah Williams, Brooke Voss and Ali Beardslee are younger athletes to watch this season as well.
Parsell is being assisted by Mitch Figas and Tara Steffens.
On the boys side, Bill Stevison is looking for the team to make a return to the state meet this year after
Borgia’s season came to a close at the sectional meet last year, when the 1,600-meter relay team failed to qualify for the state meet.
Senior Cameron Rolf and junior Ben Meyer return from that team.
“We are lucky to have several athletes who could potentially fill in as the remaining members of that relay team, including senior Jack Conroy, junior Drake Raftery and sophomore Kelan Winters,” Stevison said.
Stevison feels junior Ryan Jones (sprints and jumping events) and sophomore Gabe Overman (sprints) should be athletes to watch as well.
Figas, Parsell, Steffens and Stacey Ayers are helping Stevison.
“As with all track and field programs, we are looking for our athletes to peak during the championship season (conference, districts and beyond),” said Stevison. “If everything goes well, we hope to have at least a relay team competing in the state meet.”
Borgia’s track teams open the season at the Pacific Quad next Tuesday. That starts at 4:15 p.m. Borgia then competes at the AAA Relays at Lutheran St. Charles Saturday, March 29.
Dave Neier returns as Borgia’s head coach this year and he’ll be assisted by Chip Thompson.
“We have quite a bit of experience coming back,” Neier said.
As of press time, the team has 15 golfers and will be led by returning state qualifiers Clayton Voss and Alex Rennick.
Others with varsity experience include Parker DuMontier, Andrew McClure, Josh Kleekamp, Jake Neier, Austin Schroeder and Andrew Timpe.
Newcomers are Nathan Frederick, Max Diener, Joe Scheuler, Austin Hoerstkamp, Michael Bartley, Gade Raftery and Connor Kriete.
The team opens with two home meets at Franklin County Country Club Tuesday and Wednesday.
As of press time, little information was available boys volleyball teams.
CJ Steiger is the new head coach of the Borgia boys volleyball program, replacing that program’s founder, John Nieder.