They’re Mermaids, and they’re fast

(From left) Karly Cochrane, Holly Salzbrenner and Alex Wilson are key members as the Mount Vernon-Lisbon girls' track team opens 2009 as the Class 3A favorite.

(From left) Karly Cochrane, Holly Salzbrenner and Alex Wilson are key members as the Mount Vernon-Lisbon girls' track team opens 2009 as the Class 3A favorite. (Liz Martin photo)

MOUNT VERNON — Behind the ever-changing mascots and the silly T-shirts lies a growing track and field giant.

Behold the Mount Vernon-Lisbon … uh … Mermaids.

Seniors choose the mascot and motto each year. Usually it’s a cuddly animal.

“This is the first time we’ve had a mystical sea creature,” said Karly Cochrane.

The motto: “Eat our bubbles.”

Much of the competition can plan on living in Mount Vernon-Lisbon’s wake this season. This is one loaded squad.

“Up and down the line, this is the most depth we’ve ever had,” said MV-L Coach Bill Thomsen. “We’ve always had one or two good kids. Up and down, we’ve got kids that will score.”

Mount Vernon-Lisbon went from anonymity to the big time in a hurry. After scoring a half-point at the state meet in 2007, MV-L tallied 59 last year, finishing two points behind Benton Community in the Class 3A race.

Of those 59 points, 51.5 of them return, making the Mermaids solid early favorites to claim the 3A championship.

“We’re definitely capable of a state title,” said sophomore Holly Salzbrenner, the state runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles last year. “But it won’t get handed to us. There will be other teams going for it.”

But none of the other teams have the weapons to match those of Mount Vernon-Lisbon. This isn’t a squad that rides one superior athlete.

Cochrane, Salzbrenner and Alex Wilson spearhead a splendid core of middle-distance runners who led MV-L to state titles last year in the 1,600-meter relay and the distance medley.

That trio, along with Emily Ryan, won the non-classed state indoor title in the 3,200 relay last week at the UNI-Dome.

Mount Vernon-Lisbon placed in five relays at state last year. Wilson was second in the 800, Cochrane fourth in the 400, Courtney Kintzel fourth in the 200.

The roster consists of 33 girls. Only four of them are from Lisbon, but they all contribute.

“Without them, it wouldn’t be the same,” Cochrane said. “The first practice, with the Lisbon girls, it was like a big reunion.”

Especially for Cochrane (from Mount Vernon) and Wilson (from Lisbon), a pair of top-shelf 800 runners.

“They’ll run each other into ground sometimes (at practice),” Thomsen said.

There was talk before last season of discontinuing the merger.

“I’m glad they didn’t,” Wilson said. “I’m very happy with this setup.”

These are high times for girls’ athletics in southeast Linn County.

Mount Vernon-Lisbon won a state cross country title last fall. Mount Vernon was a state volleyball runner-up.

Now, this team — these Mermaids — have high hopes. High expectations.

“There’s a lot of pressure from each other,” Salzbrenner said. “But I think we’re definitely up to the challenge.”

It’s just a matter of reaching potential.

“I just don’t want to overcoach or overthink,” Thomsen said. “I just want to step back and let them run.”


One Response to “They’re Mermaids, and they’re fast”

  1. They’re Mermaids, and they’re fast | Says:

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