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Running full speed: Big hopes for cross country

By Staff | Sep 4, 2016

The 2016 Blue Earth Area Buccaneers cross country runners are pictured above. Kneeling in the front row from left to right are Callie Stevermer, Gabby Weerts, Melissa Hagedorn, Mariah Halvorson, Elizabeth Jacobson, Amanda Jacobson, Marissa Waddell, Hayley Jahnke, and Emma Germain. In the back row from left to right are Jacob Dikken, Grant Strukel, Gunnar Fering, Thomas Lindsey, Brady Olsen, Eric Becker, Blake Townsend, Brady Bromeland, and Cameron Germain. Not pictured are: Seth Becker, Rena’ta Bogna’r, Ariana Nagel, and Yatzary Soria.

It is finally cross country season, and the Blue Earth Area cross country season is underway.

According to head coach Tom Plocker, this year’s squad is smaller in number yet still boasts a strong nucleus of veteran runners. With the loss of a number of runners from last season, this year’s Buccaneer bunch is prepared for a steady season of running.

Plocker says the team is eager to train, compete, and encourage one another as they strive to peak in the big meets later this fall.

As a six-year veteran of the program, senior Seth Becker has taken the role of the boy’s team captain.

“Becker is coming off a strong track and field season where he qualified for the Section meet in two hurdle events,” says Plocker.

The boys team will likely be paced by a couple of talented freshmen. Grant Strukel was the team’s number one runner last season. He won his grade-level race at the Milaca Mega-Meet and finished off a stellar eighth grade year by placing fourth in the 3200 meter run at the Section track and field meet. Plocker says this is one runner to keep your eye on.

Classmate Brady Olsen also had a solid 2015 cross country season. Though he was hindered by injury during the track and field season, Plocker says he is poised to make a big impact in cross country this year.

Sophomore Gunnar Fering also had an exceptional track and field season last spring and also appears ready to make a big improvement on the cross country courses this fall, according to his coach.

Other returning members to the boy’s cross country team for BEA are Jacob Dikken, a junior, sophomores Eric Becker and Blake Townsend, as well as freshman Thomas Lindsey and eighth-graders Brady Bromeland and Cameron Germain.

The Buc girls will be lead by senior captain Mariah Halvorson, who, according to her coach, has contributed many quality races in her tenure.

“She is determined to make her final season a memorable one,” says Plocker.

Junior Melissa Hagedorn was selected as “most improved” in 2015 for her consistent racing and training.

The team is also excited to welcome junior Rena’ta Bogna’r, a foreign exchange student from Hungary.

According to Plocker, the sophomore girls are a vital component to the cross country squad this year. Callie Stevermer and Amanda Jacobson each contributed personal record races at the State True Team Track and Field Championship last spring and helped the girl’s team to the team title.

Marissa Waddell was forced to miss the track season due to injury, but returns as one of the most dedicated distance runners on the team according to her coach.

Gabby Weerts and Ariana Nagel each progressed nicely in 2015 and made the Section squad as they transitioned to the 5K distance.

Emma Germain and Hayley Jahnke are both determined veterans of cross country who will also be in the mix for varsity.

And seventh grader Elizabeth Jacobson joins the team as a rookie as well as middle-school squad teammate Yatzary Soria.

The Bucs will host two meets during the cross country season, including the annual Buc Invite on Tuesday, Oct. 11.