Team:Mayer Lutheran/Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity boys’ and girls’ cross country
Coaches: Renae Johnson (LHS) and Rob Weber (LP/HT)
Years as a co-op: 3
Conference: Minnesota River
Captains: Holly Johnson, Alex Fredrickson, and Kyle Fredrickson
Team members: 19 total (10 LP/HT, 9 LHS)
2011 finish: In 2011, the boys’ team won the MRC Championship as well as the Watertown Invitational. Alex Fredrickson won the conference meet and qualified for the state meet. Brandon Duffy also advanced to the state meet during the team’s top five finish at sections. Fredrickson and Duffy were 43rd and 103rd, respectively, at the state meet. For the girls, 2011 saw improved times and scores to propel the girls to two top-ten finishes. The Crusaders were fourth at Watertown and seventh at Rockford. Sarah Ruschmeier medaled at the Watertown meet with a season best time. The girls finished 14th at sections.
Key returning runners: According to head coaches Johnson and Weber, the team has a lot of solid experience in their returning runners, led by the seven seniors. Miranda Buesing, the team’s top runner in 2010, will return for the Crusaders after missing the 2011 season due to an injury. Also missing 2011, but back this year is senior Jake Daniels.
“It’s nice to have Miranda [and Jake] back,” Weber said.
Other seniors expected to lead the team this year include the Fredricksons, Johnson, and Marie Landskroener.
Prospects: With the experience of the upperclassmen, Johnson and Weber said they see some new talent on the team in the freshmen runners, especially in newcomers Hannah Truniger, Ben Quiram, and Alex Mielke.
Teams to beat: If 2012 returns many of the same runners from 2011, Johnson and Weber are looking at the Watertown-Mayer girls and the LeSueur-Henderson boys as this season’s teams to beat. The Royals had a strong female squad last year, challenging the Crusaders.
It was a battle for the top of the conference between the male Crusaders and the Giants, with the Crusaders narrowly capturing the title.
Goals: The boys have already set their goal for this season – to qualify for state as a team. In order to do this, they must finish in the top two teams of the Section 5A competition.
“It’s high, but it really is possible,” Johnson said of the boys’ lofty goal.
The girls have yet to set definitive goals, but Weber said the team should be competitive.
“I don’t think the girls realize how good they can be yet,” he said. “Once they do, they will step up and be more competitive.”
The Crusaders kicked off the season Aug. 25 at Baylor. Competing against Norwood-Young America and Glencoe-Silver Lake, no official scores were kept, but instead, the meet was designed to be fun and an introduction to the competitive season. The season will officially begin Sept. 6 at Rockford.