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Women’s basketball looks to exciting season with young team

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The women’s basketball team practicing in Darby gymnasium.

As the Grinnell women’s basketball team prepares for a new season, the squad looks to exceed expectations with a young and energetic set of players. The team will open their 2018-19 season with a home court matchup against Central College on Thursday Nov. 9, then will host Emmaus Bible College the following Thursday.

After a disappointing 2017-18 season, going 4-12 in Midwest Conference, the Pioneers look to bounce back with some fresh energy this year. With last year’s leading scorer having graduated, and an incoming first-year class of seven players, this year’s group marks a fresh start for many of the open positions.

The team began preseason practices back in early October.

“I would have been really surprised if you had told me I’d be one of three seniors on this team a couple of years ago,” said co-captain Hanna Kessel ’19. “Practices [this preseason] have been this mix of really fast-paced energetic work with a lot of conditioning, but we’ve also got a lot to learn in a short span of time so it’s been fast, all go-go-go, with lots of learning how we do things in our program.” 

Yet, amidst the changes in lineup, the team has retained a number of starters. Daria Guzzo ’19 returns as a captain of the squad again this year, in addition to Kessel. 

“As a captain I want to keep reminding our players of our season last year,” said Guzzo. “We didn’t have quite the season we wanted. Losing a handful of our last games by four or less points, we know that we were close last year and we need to use that as motivation for this next season.” 

Coach Dana Harrold is excited to see Guzzo and Kessel lead the team. 

“We have quality leadership on this team in Hanna Kessel and Daria Guzzo,” said Harrold. “Daria has been leading in small ways since her first year with our program and its been great to see that growth, along with the passion and dedication that she has to our program. Kessel takes pride in being a shoulder to lean on for a lot of our young players and is also the Pioneer of our team energy during games.” 

Harrold is also excited to see the youth contribute to the season and be important parts of this team alongside veterans like Guzzo and Kessel.   

“I am looking forward to seeing a young team come together and grow on and off the court,” Harrold said. “We want our brand of basketball to be hard working from start to finish, up tempo and high energy so I hope that we can provide that each and every time we take the floor.” 

A younger team can be seen as a detrimant but Kessel is looking forward to the energy it will bring.   

“We were ranked ninth out of ten teams in the coaches’ preseason rankings this year, a lot of that is because other teams don’t know what to expect from our team yet,” Kessel said. “We know that we can accept this news, or prove them wrong. Teams are going to find out that we are a new team, we’ve got new energy, and we aren’t scared of anyone.”

The women’s basketball team practicing in Darby gymnasium.
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