Girls seek 4th straight State bid
When you are talking sports two words not usually used in the same sentence are young and experienced. But, they describe this year’s Blue Earth Area girls cross country team.
All seven runners who competed in the State Team Meet last year are returning and hope to improve on their 13th-place finish.
Head coach Tom Plocker and assistant coach Chris Detert will have to replace five seniors from last year’s squad who earned a total of 13 varsity letters during their careers; Meagan Grandgenett (5), Jennifer Krussow (4), Sara Sonnek (4), Kaci Hyland (1) and Bethany Pecholt (1).
“We’re looking for a strong year, but leadership will be a key thing. I think we have enough girls who will set an example,” says Plocker.
BEA will be vying for their fourth consecutive State team bid; earning runnerup honors at the Section Meet the last three years. The team also has finished third place in the South Central Conference Meet seven straight years.
Leading the way will be senior and five-year letterwinner Miranda Murray, who enters her final cross country season in the No. 6 spot on the Girls Varsity Club. She took 21st in the conference meet and was 18th at sections.
The cast joining Murray, who was a member of the State Team, as frontrunners for the “Top 7” varsity lineup includes six runners all in the Top 22 of the Varsity Club list.
However, Plocker has already received some bad news.
Junior Meghan Mittelstadt will miss the entire season due to a knee injury.
“I feel we have a lot of talent and girls who are able to fill that spot,” Plocker says.
Mittelstadt is a four-time letterwinner and holds down the No. 16 spot on the all-time list. She was 24th in SCC Meet and 34th at sections.
Fellow junior Mandy Warmka also enters the season with four varsity letters and listed No. 20 on the Varsity Club. In the conference meet Warmka was 18th and 26th in the Section Meet.
Sophomore Rylee Wagner has earned three varsity letters and holds down the No. 11 spot on the all-time list, while fellow sophomore Lindsey Ankeny also is a three-year letter winner and No. 22.
Wagner took 12th-place at conference and earned All-Section honors with her ninth-place finish and qualified for the individual portion of the State Meet.
In the conference meet, Ankeny took 23rd and was 39th at sections.
Freshman Courtney Grandgenett earned SCC and All-Section medals last year. She will be going for her third varsity letter and is currently No. 7 on the Varsity Club list.
Grandgenett was sixth in the SCC championships and seventh in sections. She also qualified for the individual portion of the State Meet.
Marissia Hagedorn, also a freshman, is seeking her third varsity letter and is No. 13 on the all-time list. At the SCC Meet she took ninth and was All-Section with a 13th-place showing.
Battling for a spot on the varsity squad are several runners with at least one varsity letter: junior Mandi Moore (2), sophomore Courtney Dunbar (2), senior Emily Werner (1), sophomores Kelly Aukes (1), Mackenzie Determan (1), and LaNay Walker (1).
In the SCC, Plocker says Fairmont, St. James and Waseca will again be the teams to beat.
The Bucs may have a home course advantage when the conference championships are held this year at Riverside Town and Country Club.
The SCC Meet is scheduled to be held on Saturday, Oct. 11, beginning at 10 a.m.
Archrival Fairmont heads the list of teams BEA will have to contend with at the Section 2A Meet if they want to make another trip to State.
Mountain Lake-Butterfield-Odin will also provide stiff competition. Last year, the Bucs edged MLBO by three points to qualify for State in team competition.