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John's Journal: Like Magic, Monticello Girls Track Is Back For More

Speedy Skistad Sisters Lead The Way For Two-Time Defending State Champions

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2024 - 10:45 AM


Sisters Kaela and Emilia Skistad of Monticello are hoping for more success during the 2024 track and field season.


Monticello High School girls track and field records.

They don’t talk about it. They don’t want to brag and they also don’t want to jinx it. But here’s the real deal: The girls track team from Monticello High School has won the last two Class 2A state championships and could make it three in a row this spring.

Head coach Kim Nygaard admits to being a bit superstitious (“I put my socks on the same way every day”) but she knows how talented the Magic athletes are, including a pair of sisters who can outrun the wind.

Emilia Skistad, a senior this year, is the defending state champion in the Class 2A 200 meters and she finished second in the 100 meters at state a year ago. Her sister Kaela, now a junior, was the state runner-up at 400 meters last year. They also were part of the state championship 4x200 relay team along with Sasha Steinbach and Kacie Lilledahl.

Emilia and Kaela are ready to sprint as a new season begins.

Asked about 2023, Kaela said, “I wouldn't say it was like the ultimate dream season but it definitely showed what potential we have for this upcoming season.”

The Skistads are part of a powerful lineup of returning veterans, with all kinds of state meet experience. At state last year, Monticello finished with 64 team points, two more than runner-up Rocori. Individually for the Magic…

--Sasha Steinbach, now a senior, was fourth at 100 meters and ninth at 200.

--Isabel Mahoney, a current sophomore, was seventh in the 3,200 and 11th in the 1,600.

--Current junior Hope Guertin finished fifth in the 100-meter hurdles and sixth in the 300 hurdles.

--Current sophomore Lauren Hansen was 16th in the long jump.

Two years ago, the Magic won the state title with 71 points, followed by Providence Academy with 60. Their only state title came in the 4x200 relay (Sasha Steinbach, Natalie Emmerich, Thalia Mendoza-Brunotte and Emelia Skistad), yet they accumulated enough points to win the team championship, including a fourth-place finish in the 100 by Emilia Skistad and a fifth-place medal by Kaela in the 400.

The sisters’ names dominate the school record board inside the Magic’s fieldhouse, where a four-team indoor meet was held on Tuesday.

Emilia owns school records in the 100 and 200, Kaela is No. 1 in the 400, both of them were part of school-record teams in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays, Mahoney is tops at 3,200 meters, as is Guertin in the 300 hurdles.

“It's a great feeling,” Emilia said. “It shows how much we've accomplished. And I know we’re also role models for other girls to see what they can do in the future.”

Kaela said, “I remember seeing the record board for the 400 when I was in seventh grade, and I had my eye on the record ever since then. Going into high school, my goal was to get the record. It's such an amazing feeling.”

When Minnesota girls and boys track expanded from two classes to three in 2022, Monticello was among the schools that benefitted after competing with the state’s largest schools in a two-class format.

As one of the smallest schools in Class 2A Section 8, “We were on the outer fringes,” said Nygaard, who has been coaching for nearly three decades.

The Skistads have been involved in track and field since they were in second grade, when they lived in Mankato and participated in a youth program.

“We fell in love with it right away,” said Emilia.

The Magic will host invitationals on April 23 and May 14, as well as the Section 5AA championships on May 28 and 30. The state championships will be held June 6-8 at St. Michael-Albertville.

Between now and then, the Magic will train and work and enjoy their time together.

“We love our girls,” Nygaard said. “We tell them they’re family to us and we adore them.

“We look at every kid and make sure we build them from ninth grade up. Monticello used to be known for distance runners and now we have some speed and it’s generated interest in working hard in practice. We’ve been blessed with girls who buy into team and family. They work hard and play hard.”

Emilia Skistad, who will run collegiately at North Dakota State, said of last year’s results, “It's more than I expected, but I feel like we can do so much better this year. So we have so much higher hopes.”

“They’re so humble,” Nygaard said of the Skistads. “The talent they have, I think they figured out last year at the end of the season what they do have. They’re encouraging to everyone, they’re really quiet, they don’t want attention.”

In other words, let your speed do the talking.

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

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