Bureau Valley junior Regan Weidner has been there before, placing second at state in 2012. She endured an injury-plagued track season and is ready to go. Hall junior Al Baldonado was close, missing out by one place to make state a year ago. That is the fuel that fires the top area cross country runners around Bureau County.
“Al was one placement away from Detweiler last year, and that fact was not lost on him as he trained hard all summer and in our early practices,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said.
Here is a look at area cross county teams:
Boys: Baldonado is a solid No. 1 but to be competitive with stronger area teams, Keegan said the Red Devils will need huge contributions from seniors Rosy Fuentes, Sandro Aldana, Christian Garcia and junior Tyler Pullam.
Some of the younger runners have looked strong Keegan said, including freshmen Gage Ripka and Kyle Follmer, who is out with an ingrown toe nail for another week. Other squad members are junior Luke Lee-Brown, sophomores Josh Garcia and Moises Aldana and freshmen Marco Gonzalez and Christopher Enriquez.
Girls: The Lady Devils will be led by seniors Becca Herrmann and Brittany Foster, the squads only upperclassmen. Keegan said freshmen Kaylee Olivares has the potential to shine in this sport “once she gets things figured out.” They’re joined by sophomores Kaylee Turpen and Tanja Acamovic and freshmen Amelia Moreno and Linnea Lee-Brown.
“Hopefully as the season goes along they will all see improvement and advance as a team to sectionals again,” Keegan said.
Boys: Senior Ryan Taylor was a 2012 state qualifier for BV, finishing 49th in Class A. He will be challenged by senior Kane Eastwood, whom Donner noted along with classmate Andrew Smith, logged a lot of miles over the summer to prepare for their senior year. Donner looks for Smith to lead the Storm’s 3-8 spots, including seniors Colton Peterson, Daniel Trone, Kody Church, juniors Michael Trujilio and Charlie Lotspeich and sophomore Yulian Osorio.
“The key to our success will be our team depth. Our numbers 3-8 will change all year. If our boys put in the work these next two months, we could have a shot at a state run,” Donner said.
Girls: Donner said Weidner has put in a strong offseason of running to work back in shape from the nagging injuries this spring. She had a lot of company logging the summer mileage in preparation for the season, Dorner said.
Additions like junior Corinne Wagenknecht and freshmen Heather Williams make the Storm’s prospects strong for this season. “I really feel we can compete for the conference championship,” Dorner said. Katelin Johnson, Kelly Sierens and Lauren Peterson return for their senior year joined by junior Riley Francis and freshman Marissa Mungia and Sabrina Webb.
Boys: The Tigers have some experience returning from last year’s sectional team in senior Patrick Arrabia, Alex Biggs and Mason Hunt and sophomores Dominic Biggs and Cody Workman. However, senior Zach Andersen is focusing on soccer this year and Andrew Birkey graduated. The Tigers gain sophomore Peter Wang and Kaleb Kousmierz.
“It will be a challenge, but if we stay healthy, we should have a shot at repeating las year’s performance,” PHS coach Pat Hodge said.
Girls: The PHS girls squad will be known as “Zoe and the newcomers.” Senior Zoe Mead, is the lone returner, but she is a good one,a three-time letterwinner and two-time sectional qualifier.
She has new company with juniors Megan Hendrickson, Ashley Rivera and Lindsy York, a transfer from Putnam County, sophomores Kira Harp and Alex Smallwood, and freshmen Casey Schertz.
“Aside from Zoe Mead, we are a totally different team from last year as we have six rookies,” Hodge said. “Lindsy York brings some experience with her from Putnam County and has been a nice fit for our team. Everyone else is new to distance running and it will take some time to get mentally and physically prepared for it. Hopefully by the end of the year we can be competitive at regional and challenge for a sectional spot. There are a lot of unknown factors until we get some meets under our belt.”
“For both squads it will be exciting to be a part of the newly expanded Three Rivers Conference. There are many fine programs in both cross country and track. It should be a nice, competitive atmosphere,” he said.
Boys: Skylar Wheeler, the 2012 MVP, will be out the first month of the season due to injury. Still, coach Bob Halberg expects a lot of improvement from prior years with the return of senior Ben Hosto, juniors Nick Bickett and Nick Dewey and sophomore Alan Stamberger and the additions of sophomores Paul Meyer and James Blackburn.
Girls: With a squad of nine deep, Halberg looks for “some really good things to happen this year.” Jennifer Popovich, the 2012 MVP, was All-Conference last year and promises to have another solid season. She should be pressed by senior Kaitlin Boers and freshmen Megan Grady, Erin Hosto and Brenna Rieker.
“The nucleus looks good barring injuries and hopefully with competition in practice we hope to advance to Sectionals. The future looks bright.”
Other returnees include senior Laura Rieker, juniors Sydney Langler, joined by sophomore newcomers Emma Scully and Renee Vaessen.
The co-op squad is split nearly in half with eight athletes from Amboy and seven from LaMoille. The Clippers will run Thursday at Rockridge.
Boys: The numbers are strong for the Bruins program with Adam Hunter, Leo Lopez, Felipe Takeasu, Jeff Barnes, Abram Yucus, Brent Koogler, Jacob Condon, Jacob Hockings, Garrett Barto, Jeremiah Johnson, Andrew Lopez, Joey Chai, Johnny Kerasotes and H. Wang,
Girls: Senior Laura Sickley received all-BCR Honorable Mention honors last year. She is joined this year by Thea Mauck, Holly Gregorich, Annie Needs, Julia Pohar, Sadie Long, Katy Kennamer, Morgan Knoblauch, Raley Mauck, Anna Jereb, Destiny Kwiatek, Lexie Miranda and Sophie Carus.
The Bulldogs have four runners with freshmen Nathan Bousum, Brady Debruhl, and sophomore Jacob Tudor and Johnee Schulte.
Seniors Adilene Garcia and Cristian Mendez head up the Little Giants’ pack, including juniors Hector Madrigal, Jesus Garcia and Alberto Acosta and freshmen Austin Kiest, Miguel Lopez and Luis Cruz.