WHS CC: Girls team returns most, boys ready for something new

Seniors on this year’s Wildcat cross country team include, front row: Kiersten Short, Abby Kalenberg, Lexi Willems, Mykayla Banyai, Audra Thurman, and McCall Helstrom; middle row: Sydney Morton, Ali Helle, Katherine Jensen, Kortney Luedloff, and Kaylee Vanderhoff; back row: Jake Reuben, Tony Fulkerson, Alex Fortwengler, Chris Haus, and Jacob Steinbauer; not pictured: Caleb Gesinger, Alex Tasson, and Holly Thomas.

Seniors on this year’s Wildcat cross country team include, front row: Kiersten Short, Abby Kalenberg, Lexi Willems, Mykayla Banyai, Audra Thurman, and McCall Helstrom; middle row: Sydney Morton, Ali Helle, Katherine Jensen, Kortney Luedloff, and Kaylee Vanderhoff; back row: Jake Reuben, Tony Fulkerson, Alex Fortwengler, Chris Haus, and Jacob Steinbauer; not pictured: Caleb Gesinger, Alex Tasson, and Holly Thomas.

Coach: Christian Gilbert

Assistant coaches: Don Skerik, Jake Hockinson (jv boys), Audra Lehrke (jv girls), and Megan Bailey (junior high)

Conference: Wright County

Section: 2AA – Buffalo, Chanhassen, Chaska, Dassel-Cokato, Delano, Hutchinson, Mankato East, Mankato West, Marshall, Mound-Westonka, New Prague, Orono, Shakopee, Worthington

2012 finish: In 2012, the girls’ cross country team won three meets and finished second at two more during the regular season. The runners were sixth at the WCC meet and finished ninth of 15 teams at sections. Lexi Willems earned All-Conference honors for finishing eighth at sections.

The boys’ team was second in one meet last season, with two third-place finishes. The Wildcat boys were tenth in the WCC and 15th at sections.

The Waconia girls’ cross country team returns many of its top runners from last season including Carissa Dock (left), Lexi Willems (center), and Alora Rands (right).

The Waconia girls’ cross country team returns many of its top runners from last season including Carissa Dock (left), Lexi Willems (center), and Alora Rands (right).

Key returnees: All-Conference runner Lexi Willems returns for her senior season of girls’ cross country along with Carissa Dock, Alora Rands, Kortney Luedloff, Mica Aslakson, and Mikaela Kauma, who all ran varsity races last season.

The boys return Tony Fulkerson, Jacob Steinbauer, Jacob Tereau, and Brian Citarella among others. Varsity regular Landin Goloja is on the team this season, but is battling a bout of mononucleosis.

Key newcomers: The Waconia cross country team is holding time trials for the first varsity spots of the season this week, so newcomers are hard to name as there are dozens of athletes vying for varsity positions.

One group that head coach Christian Gilbert is particularly excited for in the coming years are the current male runners in grades 7-10.

“They are the absolute future,” Gilbert said. “They could be competitive this year.”

Teams to beat: Mound-Westonka and Orono remain the Wildcats’ toughest competition in the Wright County Conference, while many of the section teams remain challenges for WHS.

Goals: Maybe not this season, but an eventual goal of the WHS team is to get All-Conference male runners and state qualifiers, something the team hasn’t seen in years. Both guys’ and girls’ teams are looking for improved conference and section finishes in 2013.

“I think both teams would be happy to finish middle of the pack,” Gilbert said.

Even with the transition from former head coach Clark Machtemes to former assistant coach Christian Gilbert at the helm, the program will retain many of its core values, Gilbert said.

“We’re still the same old, big family,” Gilbert said. “Cross country’s for everybody, we can all get in shape together.”

Gilbert pointed out that while some are dedicated distance runners, many athletes on the team are preparing for other sports or are out for the exercise and camaraderie, which he is happy to have.

First meet: The Wildcats start the season Sept. 5 at Tri-City United.

Contact Melissa Marohl at melissa.marohl@ecm-inc.com

 
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