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HEM defies predictions, heads to state

Lady Miners take fourth at regionals to secure berth in state play

 


A media outlet recently picked Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow (HEM) High School Lady Miners to be 5th in the 1A Regional Tournament. Coach Jackie Jones used the prediction for a motivational speech to her girls the night before facing Kaycee in the regionals.

“My girls have been overlooked most of the season, and, at times, for good reason,” Jones said. “We are a young team with only one senior.”

In the beginning of the season, Jones worried about the team gelling together because there was so much youth.

“We had our troubles early as we watched other teams’ finely tuned, developed systems continue to evolve,” Jones said. “We chose to focus on our girls, our schemes, and our own destiny into the regional tournament.”

Kaycee’s Lady Bucs did beat the Lady Miners twice, but those were tight sets. On Friday Kaycee won 25-16, 25-14, 26-24 but the Lady Miners came back to beat their next opponent, Midwest Lady Oilers 25-19, 25-13, 25-11.

The pressure was on for the Lady Miners to beat Hulett Lady Devils Saturday morning to have a shot at going to state. HEM pulled it together although the Lady Red Devils did win one set. Still the Lady Miners came out on top, scoring 25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17.

“They gave all they had in the qualifying game against Hulett on Saturday morning and it was a total team effort, which is to be expected from this group of girls,” Jones said. “One of the most poignant moments of the weekend came from freshman Hayley Felton, who is not a starter for our team.

“Hayley had a team building motivational effort that inspired her team to beat Hulett and earn their way to Casper,” Jones said. “She felt great pride and showed perhaps the most emotion as she watched Madison Campbell’s kill go off a Hulett defender sending the Lady Miners to another week of volleyball together, it is an example of the team we are.”

“It took a little while for it to click we made it to state,” Mackenzie Finn, a junior on the team, said.

“After the game we all kind of looked at each other like ‘Oh my gosh we are going to state’, and we all burst out in happy tears,” Cloe Olsen, a junior on the team said, .

The Lady Miners knew they had to win against the Red Devils, and they did.

“The amount of improvement for this group of girls should not go unnoticed, especially when talking about the freshman trio of Amy Campbell, Madison Campbell and Taylar Scott,” Jones said. “The play of these rookies on the bigger stage of a regional tournament made other players and coaches take notice and they truly played beyond their years and led us to the state tournament.”

“The Hulett game we got behind by nine points, but we came back, because we knew we could,” Olsen said, explaining why the team didn’t succumb to being behind.

Kaycee stayed the Lady Miners nemesis at the tournament beating HEM again Saturday 25-23, 25-20, 25-15 as the Lady Miners came in 4th at the tournament.

The Lady Miners were not the only people to be happy the team made state. Upon arriving back to Hanna in the evening, the town gave them a parade.

Finn and Olsen both said they were amazed by how many people had come out to see the team return from the tournament.

“It was really amazing,” Olsen said.

Credit goes to the coaches Jones and Russ Wiggins in believing the team could go to state said the two junior players.

“They really did push us for us to do our very best, I must say that,” Olsen said with Finn in agreement.

“We know the odds are stacked against us as soon as we walk through the doors of the Casper Events Center, but we continue to bond, grow and prove ourselves on another big stage,” Jones concluded.

The Lady Miners will be in Casper on Nov. 2 to face Cokeville.

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