Staff Photographer

Holdrege sophomore Taylor Wiser (14) is one of 10 varsity players who return for the Dusters this winter as they welcome a new coach in Derek Runcie, who was formerly at St. Paul.

HOLDREGE — Holdrege will have a new girls basketball coach this season.

Derek Runcie, who previously coached at St. Paul, will take over the Dusters’ program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2014-15.

This year’s team has potential, though. The Dusters return 74 percent of their scoring and 10 players with varsity experience.

“When half of your conference made it to state the previous year, you know nothing is going to be given to you,” Runcie said. “But one thing I do know is that these girls want to win. They want to bring Holdrege back to a level of success they have had in the past.”

The Dusters return their top five scorers from a year ago.

Senior guard Jirsie Klein is their top player after averaging a team-high 7.5 points per game last season. She also recorded 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.9 steals per contest.

Seniors Kloey Kirwan, Kenzie Hurlburt, Ryan Melroy and Anna Grace Weed, juniors Taylor Wiser and Sam Schemper, and freshmen Megan Belgum, Mallory Pfeifer, Brooklyn Berney and McKenna Ortgiesen are returning contributors from last season.

“By having so much depth on our team, it allows us to be very versatile in how we are able to defend and attack other teams,” Runcie said.

The Dusters open the season at Adams Central at 6 p.m. Dec. 6.

Boys Basketball

The Dusters’ boys basketball program also hasn’t had notable success in recent seasons and is coming off an 8-15 record last year.

Seniors Jackson Hilyard and Dylan Bauman are the top returners for the Dusters after averaging 10.3 points and 7.8 points per game, respectively.

Zach Reed, Dashton Edgren, Ethan Twohig, Tyler Anderson, Coby Anderson, Jackson Hinrichs, Kaden Broecker and Hudson Reed likely will contribute this season.

The Dusters open the season at Adams Central on Dec. 6.

“Really excited to see what this team can accomplish,” coach Jon Karn said. “We need to really improve our intensity on the defensive side of things and also prove we can pay attention to detail and control certain parts of the game.”

Wrestling

Last season, the Dusters posted a 4-7 duals record and a 39th place finish at the Class B State Wrestling Championships.

The Dusters are focused on improving both of those marks this season. They have 26 wrestlers on this year’s team, including three returning state qualifiers and five other letterwinners.

Seniors Trev Melroy (138 pounds), Imanol Munoz (195) and Trent Weak (220) are reigning state qualifiers. Brayden Schmalz (113), Brandon Carpenter (126), Jacob Janssen (132), Sam Holt (152) and Damian Smith (160) also are returning letterwinners.

“We will have a great group of seniors that will be great leaders for our younger wrestlers,” second-year coach Justin Ganser said. “We have 26 guys out for the team this year, which is great and will create some competition in the wrestling room. We are hoping to fill all of the weight classes and be competitive at the tournaments and duals that we attend.”

@DanZielinski3

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