On the heels of the retirements of head coach Clark Machtemes and assistant coach Sandy Wasness from Waconia cross country in the fall, Christian Gilbert, who has been an assistant coach with the program since 2000, will take over as the new head coach in the fall.
Gilbert, who teaches eighth grade world geography at Clearwater Middle School, is already the head coach of the girls’ track and field team, and thinks this will help solidify the importance of year-round training.
“I’m most excited about the fact that I will be able to work with and be the main influence with the distance runners year round in Waconia,” he said. “I want the distance runners of Waconia to realize the importance of training year round. This should have a positive effect on our team and make our kids more goal-oriented in regards to training, times, and personal accomplishments.”
Perhaps no one knows more about the shoes left to fill than the current coaching staff of Gilbert, Dan Skerik, Audra Lehrke, and Jake Hockinson.
“[Machtemes] has set the bar high and I want Waconia CC to continue to be an activity for not only the elite distance runners, but cater to any kid who wants to come out and either prepare for a winter sport or be part of a group,” Gilbert said.
While it will be “weird” without Machtemes and Wasness, Gilbert and the remaining coaching staff are ready to continue the strong traditions within the cross country program.
“Cross country is, in my opinion, the best sport out there for any and all types of people,” he said. “Everyone is on the ‘starting team’ and no one sits on the bench. We are all out there together trying to get to the finish line a bit faster than the last time.”
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