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Grand Forks girls soccer preview: Central captains balance dual-athlete role

Hannah Hynek and a few of her Central teammates navigate the challenge of playing both soccer and track and field in the spring.

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Hannah Hynek, Grand Forks Central.
Submitted photo.
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GRAND FORKS — The captains for the Grand Forks Central girls soccer team have unique kind of two-a-day practices sometimes this spring.

Senior Hannah Hynek, her sophomore sister Claire Hynek and junior Annika Presteng lead the Knights in soccer, but they also all three run track and field at Central.

With the wintry spring in Grand Forks this year, the soccer team practices from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Central gym, while the track and field team practices indoors at UND’s Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic Center from 7 to 9 p.m.

For Hannah Hynek, Grand Forks’ lone returning all-state selection from 2021, she’s used to the grind. She’s been doing the spring dual athlete role since she was a seventh-grader.

“It has been really fun but stressful,” she said. “If you have to miss one practice, you’re missing a whole day to keep improving and you don’t get to be with your teammates all the time. You have to try to find the balance.”

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Hannah Hynek, who has signed a letter of intent to compete in women’s soccer at the University of Jamestown, said Central girls soccer coach George DuBois and Central track and field coach Sean Allan have been supportive.

“They’re both really accepting of it, and I’m very grateful for that,” Hynek said. “The communication is what’s key and makes it work. If I’m tired or need a break, they’re totally willing to give me the time. I’m super appreciative of that.”

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Grand Forks Central's Hannah Hynek tries to intercept a pass from Fargo Shanley forward Lindsey Astrup (left) during a girls soccer match at Cushman Field on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

For Central soccer, the Hynek sisters are a key part of the attack. Both sisters scored seven goals last year for the Knights, who finished 5-8-1 in 2021.

“(The Hynek sisters) provide a combination of athleticism and soccer ability that gives us a pretty bold attacking presence,” DuBois said. “They have a good understanding of how to play off each other and their teammates. It gives defenses two things to think about.”

The captains, as well as a few others, attempt the dual spring athlete role for DuBois.

“It’s a lot on their plates but something we’re willing to work with to expose our kids to different experiences,” DuBois said. “The three in leadership roles means they have really good heads on their shoulders and are able to execute those two complex tasks in a way that is pretty impressive.”

When games and track meets start to pick up more often as the regular season gets underway, the dual athletes have to be choosier about their options.

“If there’s a Friday track meet, I might do two or three events at the beginning, then go to soccer after,” Hynek said. “I did that last Friday. I try to hit both as much as possible.”

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Grand Forks Central's Hannah Hynek (929) sprints down a straightaway at Lincoln Park during the girls 5K race of the Grand Forks Invite on Saturday, October 2, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The Knights finished fifth in the East Region last season, narrowly missing a state tournament berth.

“(Reach the state tournament) is always the underlying goal,” DuBois said. “As far as realistic expectations this year, I think those are in place. We need to be able to put complete games together. Technically and tactically, we’re there, but we have a little work to do with sustained mentality and building confidence. That’s something this group is looking to push for.”

Grand Forks girls soccer at a glance

Red River girls

Coach: Jason Heydt.

2021 record: 2-11-1.

Key returners: Soph. MF Maggie Barker; jr. F Lucy Halvorson; jr. MF Cassidy O’Halloran; jr. F Annick Lawson-Body; fr. MF Brenna Shock; fr. D Addison Fargo; sr. D Lily Costello, jr. MF Grace Schindler; jr. D Sydney Jennings; jr. MF Kiran Lee.

Top newcomers: Soph. G Eden Parkinson; jr. MF Brooklyn Bergeron; soph. MF Morgan Hartze. 

Coach Heydt says: “I’m excited for the year. We’re 0-2-1, but we have a lot of talent. We’ve improved each game and now just need to start cleaning up a few things. If we do that, I see some goals going in and we’ll start winning some games.”

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Central girls

Coach: George DuBois.

2021 record: 5-8-1.

Key returners: Sr. F Hannah Hynek (7 goals, 7 assists last year, all-conference, all-state); soph. MF Claire Hynek (7 goals, 2 assists, all-conference); fr. D Madisyn McLaughlin (1 assist); fr. MF Lauren Reardon; jr. MF Annika Presteng (1 goal); fr. MF/D Emily Common; fr. D Makynli Dickelman; sr. G Rylee Gallagher; fr. MF Aubriell Kraemer.

Top newcomers: Eighth-grader MF Jacie Reardon; eighth-grader MF Rowan Olmstead.

Coach DuBois says: “I think our strengths lie in the composition of our returners in the sense that a lot are back from last year, so instead of reteaching and rebuilding, we’ve been able to pick up tactically where we left off last year. We have a good foundation in place.”

Related Topics: GF CENTRAL
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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