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Cross country teams ready to run

By Staff | Sep 6, 2020

This year’s girls cross country team is pictured above left: front row, left to right, Eloise Blair, Mya Steinhauer, Hope Goette, Addison Smith, Leah Becker, Clarine Greer; back row, left to right, Mari Vargas, Lily Olson, Lauren Bleess, Elizabeth Jacobson. Missing from the photo: Aubrey Hueper, Calli Ferguson, Reagan Bromeland, Allison Redepenning, Destinee Griffey, Autumn Gordon

If you have paid attention to the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers cross country program over the years, you might remember head coach Tom Plocker picks out a theme for each year. He then ties practices into the theme as a way to make all of the hard work the runners put in a little more fun.

Now that the 2020 season has begun, coach Plocker shares his theme for this year.

“This year’s theme is Looney Tunes characters,” Plocker shares. “And it is partially due to the crazy times we are experiencing. Each day one of the runners will be likened to one of those famous and funny cartoon characters.”

The boys’ team will be captained by seniors Cameron Germain and James Greer.

“These are two veteran, high-character guys who have put in some solid miles over the summer,” Plocker notes. “They are ready for strong senior campaigns.”

The boys team is shown above: front row, left to right, Shane Levenhagen, Henry Van Ryn, Devin Haase, Marcus Eckles, Gibson Haase; middle row, left to right, Blair Lunz, Hayden Vereide, Zaire Morrow, Dominic Morrow, Damion Mahlstedt; back row, left to right, Cameron Germain, Vern Johnson, James Greer, Nick Frank, Ashton Lloyd. Missing from the photo: Angel Martinez, Eli Paz.

While the two senior captains will lead the way, Plocker says a deep sophomore class will be the strength of the squad.

“Angel Martinez looks poised for an excellent season and Damion Mahlsted returns after a successful debut in 2019,” Plocker comments. “Blair Lunz is a rookie who looks like he will be a big contributor. Shane Levenhagen is the heart and soul of the team and Eli Paz is a quality kid.”

The squad also has newcomers Nick Frank, a senior, Vern Johnson, a junior, sophomores Ashton Lloyd and Dominic Morrow and freshman Zaire Morrow.

The middle school team is made up of eighth grader Hayden Vereide and seventh graders Marcus Eckles, Devin Haase, Gibson Haase and Henry Van Ryn.

“Junior Elizabeth Jacobsen, who was our Most Improved Runner for 2019, returns to lead the way for the girl’s squad,” Plocker shares. “Her classmate Aubrey Hueper is also a returning veteran. Freshmen Leah Becker and Clarine Greer will be looking to make an impact on the varsity squad this season. We also have a dedicated eighth grader, Allison Smith, who is looking to improve on her rookie year.”

With the girls volleyball season postponed until next spring, the cross country squad picked up some new members off of the volleyball squad.

“We have three sophomore girls who would normally be on the volleyball team,” Plocker explains. “Eloise Blair, Lily Olson and Mya Steinhauer will add talent and depth to the team.”

Plocker mentions freshman newcomer Allison Redepenning has already shown potential for making a difference on this year’s squad.

“We also have junior Calli Ferguson who brings a solid track and field experience to the team,” Plocker says. “And senior Mari Vargas will help out as well.”

The two junior high girls on the squad this year are Hope Goette, an eighth grader, and Destinee Griffey, who is a seventh grader.

The 2020 season will be shorter than normal and will feature only weekly triangular meets among the eastern schools in the Big South Conference. In addition to Blue Earth, the other teams are Fairmont, JCC, St. James, St. Peter and Waseca.

“Conference honors will be determined by a point system based on team and individual places at the triangular meets,” Plocker explains. “At this point, Section and State Meets look doubtful. But the team is simply grateful for the opportunity to train and compete this season.”