Harriers open at Fairmont
Before school starts the Blue Earth Area girls and boys cross country teams will have had one meet under their belts.
On Aug. 13, both teams began practicing in preparation for their season-opener – the Fairmont Early-Bird – on Aug. 24.
“We had a solid number of athletes reporting. The teams will feature a fairly young mix of runners,” says head coach Tom Plocker.
“We usually have a few who join the team once the season gets under way,” he adds.
The veteran mentor is entering his 25th season. This year he’s being assisted by two former Buc standouts.
Stacie Hassing excelled in volleyball and track and field, while Dan Ristau finished his cross country career in the No. 3 all-time spot on the boys varsity club.
The Bucs girls are coming off one of their most successful seasons.
They won three meets last year, including the I-90 Invite in Fairmont for the first time since 1994.
The girls also placed second in the South Central Conference and were fourth at the Section 2A Meet.
Plocker will have several runners returning who competed in the conference and section meets.
Leading the way will be two-time varsity letterwinner Taylor Grandgenett.
The freshman placed 10th in the SCC Meet and was 28th at Section.
Sophomore Signe Olson also is a two-time letterwinner. She placed 17th at the conference meet and was 41st at Section.
Freshman Shayna Stevermer enters the season with one varsity letter. At conference took 21st overall and was 54th at the section championships.
Seniors Mara Fenske and Josselyn Martinez will be co-captains for this year’s squad.
Fenske, a two-time letterwinner, placed 28th at the SCC Meet last year.
Martinez will be shooting for her second varsity letter.
Sophomore Athena Peterson has one varsity letter and was a member of last year’s section team and placed 83rd overall.
Other returning varsity letterwinners include junior Sierra Halvorson with three; junior Anna Aukes with two; and with one, junior Jenna Stevermer and sophomores Autumn Foster, Rowan Hacken and Meredith Hagedorn.
Also out for cross country include seniors Laticia Briseno and Cynthia Johnson; juniors Alexis Brooks and Kim Matejka, a foreign exchange student from Germany; sophomores Madeline Jenkins and Cibrana Juarez; freshmen Nyla Anderson, Madalyn Gaydon and Makenzie Slette; and seventh-graders Kara Devinney, Justina Gaydon, Melissa Hagedorn and Cassie Peterson.
On the boys side, several varsity spots will need to be filled.
This year’s squad will be captained by senior Luke Loveall.
BEA will have three returning lettermen who either ran in the conference or section meet.
Sophomore Mike Ankeny tops the list with three varsity letters. He took 17th in the SCC Meet and was the top Buc finisher at Section with a 25th-place performance.
Junior Alec Huber and sophomore Adam Buseman earned their first varsity letter last year.
Huber was 26th at the conference meet, while Buseman was four spots back in 30th place.
At sections, Huber finished 84th overall.
Three Bucs start the season with one varsity letter. They include junior Kyle Mercer and sophomores Nick Lein and Nick Shure.
Also out for the team are junior Jose Rios; junior foreign exchange students John Lee of South Korea and Jakob Thomsen of Denmark; sophomores Gae Johnson and Ike Zebedee; freshmen John Lindsey, Jack Nimz and Zach Vaske; eighth-grader Seth Becker; and seventh-grader Ben Sheldahl.
For the season, Plocker looks for both the Waseca girls and boys teams to be the favorites to win the South Central Conference and Section 2A titles.
The Bucs may have a little home field advantage in one big meet at the end of the season.
Their lone home meet is scheduled for Oct. 16 at Riverside Town and Country Club.
Nine days later, BEA hosts the Section 2A Championship Meet at Riverside.