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Players' request was the perfect fit
The Indians asked their coach to improve their conditioning.
FENTON -- Dustin Wengert couldn't believe what his team was asking early in the season.
His players approached him with a request he'd never heard in his years of coaching.
"No one likes conditioning, but this is where we wanted to be and that's what we thought we had to do to get here," St. Vincent senior Morgan Moll said.
The players asked that Wengert work the team harder in practice. They wanted to be better conditioned so they wouldn't tire as they chased a girls soccer state title.
"When we first started, it wasn't hot," St. Vincent senior Courtney Besand said of the early season practices. "It was good weather to play soccer. We knew we wanted to get here. The only way to get here is if we were in fantastic shape and could go the whole game without taking a break."
Wengert obliged. He made the team run more, a move that had a few of the girls wondering if they made a mistake.
"When we actually started conditioning more, we were like, 'Why did we go talk to him?'" junior Liz Brueckner said. "We were like, 'We shouldn't have gone to talk to him.' But now all that extra running, it was worth it."
Besand said Wengert added the perfect amount of work to help the team.
"We were already in shape, but he pushed us a little harder," she said. "It wasn't like people were puking or anything, but it was just a little extra push to know he was behind us."
The extra work paid off at the Class 1 final four. The Indians dominated the play for most of their two games at the Anheuser-Busch Center on their way to the state title. Wengert credited his team's decision to increase its workload with helping it to the state crown.
"I thought by the 30-minute mark of the first half that Trinity was on their heels," Wengert said of the title game. "I really think the second half, late especially, they were making a push because they had to. But even once they made it 2-1, they fell back on their heels and we were able to stay fresh with the depth and the extra conditioning."
Sophomore Emily Cissell said the medal around her neck validated the added workload.
"I think it was the right decision," she said. "If anything, you might hate it at the time, but it will help us in the end."
Besand and Moll could empathize with the Trinity Catholic soccer team after Saturday's title game. The two St. Vincent seniors had suffered a defeat in a state championship.
Besand and Moll were members of the 2007 volleyball team that lost to Stockton in the title match. That experience helped them appreciate Saturday even more.
"It's the best way to end it," Moll said. "When we lost it in volleyball, waiting for medals was awful. This time, it's worth the wait."
Besand said Saturday's success was made even more special because it marked the end of her high school sports career.
"It's one thing you work for all year and you finally get it," she said. "It's amazing. It's the greatest feeling I've had."