Tri-County prep cross country teams begin their seasons

The high school cross country season of 2021 will be once again that of big meets with lots of schools and lots of runners.

Barring anything bad with COVID-19, the masks and small meets will be set aside this fall.

"Our athletes are very excited to be able to have things feel more like "normal" this season. This group has a great attitude and I know that whatever obstacles come their way they will continue to face it with a positive attitude! " new Fall Creek head coach Joell Anders said.

"The (kids) are happy and I think when they get to those first meets that is big they will be even more pumped!" Augusta head coach Zach Lee said.

"It is great to see full starting lines and fans running around the course to see their athletes run! The athletes are excited to be able to run at some of their favorite meets against teams that we were not able to see last yesr. Overall, they are pumped for the season." Osseo-Fairchild head coach Janet Wood said.

The Beavers are off to a good start. At last weekend's Marshfield Columbus Invitational AHS finished fourth in the small school division led by senior Bailey Peterson as she finished third overall just five seconds from first Her time 20:22.She also finished second in a meet held in Onalaska the week before. She was one of four returning runners, including her sister Ava, a junior; and male runners Devin Molinaro and Kyle Shult.

Other top ten finishers in the small school division at the Columbus meet for Augusta were Ava Peterson in fourth place and Beth Boone with a seventh place finish.

"We had Autumn Randall running great, CC Hanson looking strong , Kendra Olson improving her time from last meet, and Roella Weiss with her first ever high school race!" Lee said.

Shult has also been running well since the season started. The senior letterman led the way for Augusta's boys with a 5th place in the small school division (and 20th overall) he ran a strong race coming in under minutes while junior Molinaro ran a person best of 20:22 which gave him 13th in the small school division. Fellow junior Drew Jacobs also ran a very strong race lowering his seasonal best by 1 min 30 seconds. Directly right behind him was teammate Damian Sovereign in his first-ever cross country race and rounding up the pack for AHS were Matt Cork and Preston Schafer. A good number of Augusta runners are just starting out. Junior Gavin Wiese also competed last week in the Brone Invitational at Cochrane-Fountain City

"We want to have fun, run fast, and learn more about running and being on a team." Lee said.

Meanwhile Fall Creek own's invitational meet, the Knudtson is this Saturday, Sept. 11 beginning at 10 a.m. The Crickets competed in the Boyceville Invitational already. FC returns runners such as junior Jenna Anders who placed sixth at the state meet last year, and seniors Allison Dubiel and Katie Kent for the girls along with senior Kael Sanfelippo, junior, Stewart Gundry and sophomore, Mason Antczak.

"Allison and Katie are strong runners to go with Jenna so we are hoping to have another successful season for the girls' team," Anders said. "Kael was our top boy runner last year finishing strong at the sectional meet. Stewart and Mason will add strength to the team as well. We have a hard working group of athletes who push each other to reach their goals. We are always striving to place high in meets as a team and individually."

Both Osseo-Fairchild and Eleva-Strum began their seasons at the Brone Invitational last week Thursday, Sept. 2. Neither team was complete in the boys' meet and only Osseo-Fairchild in the girls.

But E-S hopes to get one additional male runner out this season to compete as a team because the Cardinals return a veteran group led by senior Garrett Zimpel, sophomore Jared Bohn, senior Charlie Dyar and junior James Anderson. All four ran last season as did sophomore Anabel Howie and senior Emily Gehrke for the E-S girls. Howie had the best finish of the Tri-County area runners in the girls' race at Brone in 23:00 even, good for 27th place.

"I expect she's going to have a good year and run well and expect our boys' runners will improve their times throughout the season as well." E-S head coach Martin Walter said.

Zimpel and Bohn both finished in the top 50 for the Cards at Brone with Zimpel at 43rd in 20:36 and Bohn 50th in 21:10.

Osseo-Fairchild finished seventh as a team out of the 13 teams competing in the meet with a score of 161 (Durand won the girls race at Brone with a score of 36 while Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau won the boys' title with a score of 50. The Thunders' runners were junior Brenna Wier, 34th in 23:52; senior Aurora Wier, 39th in 24:21; senior Rylee Bratina, 61st in 27:59; junior Aubrey Schmidt, 65th in 28:14; junior Delany Lyngen, 63rd in 28:06; junior Ada Nelson, 67th in 28:18 and Emilee Bauer, 80th in 36:30.

Kyle Burmsech is the top returning boys' runner for O-F. He finished 31st at Brone, the highest boys' finish there from the Tri-County area in 19:58. Also running for the Thunder were freshman Lincoln Bertrang, 38th in 20:21 and sophomore Mason Scheffer, 67th in 22:11.

"My runners are strong this year and eager to have a full schedule. They are working hard to be in the best physical shape possible. As a team, I expect that we will be in the middle of the conference with some standout performances by my top runners. My runners are strong this year and eager to have a full schedule. They are working hard to be in the best physical shape possible. As a team, I expect that we will be in the middle of the conference with some standout performances by my top runners." Wood said.

Winning the boys' race was C-FC senior Wes Pronschinske in 16:29 ina course which slides right up to the hills and bluffs of the area while Bangor freshman Anna Fronk in 19:46.

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