The 2015 cross country season is already underway, with many local teams already seeing their extra summer mileage pay off.
All four city girls’ teams are seeing improvement in running ability, as well as an increase in the amount of runners on the team.
There are several individual runners to keep an eye out for this season, including St. Philip junior Ava Strenge, who was the Division 4 state champion last season as a sophomore.
Delton Kellogg qualified for the state finals as a team a season ago, which is the goal of many local cross country teams in this 2015 campaign.
One team to keep an eye on this year will be Marshall, led by seniors Abbey Ufkes and Rachel Schoepke. The Redhawks have already won three invitationals this season, and Ufkes and Schoepke have finished first and second in all three races.
Following is a look at every local girls’ cross country team:
Coach: Ryan Renner (14th season)
Last year: Second in Interstate Eight, Seventh at Regionals
Top returners: Reagan Dishaw (sr.), Allegra Baird (jr.), Hannah Berning (jr.), Emma Berning (so.), Savannah Shifflett (so.)
Outlook: “We have a handful of returning varsity runners and a lot of new additions,” said Renner. “Together we hope to put together a competitive season and hope to do well as the season progresses. Several girls put in a lot of summer miles and we hope to see that dedication pay off.”
Coach: Becky Pryor (21st season)
Last year: SMAC East Runners-up, 5th overall in SMAC
Top returners: Marie Bridges (sr.), Meggie Riegle (sr.), Payton Stine (sr.) Taylar Coyer (jr.), Maggie Farrell (jr.), Logann Haluszka (so.), Taylor Watson (so.), Maggie Wood (so.).
Outlook: “We look to be a stronger team than last season, with many of our top runners returning to lead the way,” said Pryor. “We have some strong new runners that are going to help fill some gaps we had last fall.”
Coach: Rick McKire (10th season)
Last year: Eighth in Interstate-Eight
Top returners: Shylee Smith (sr.), Torey Fischer (jr.), Julie Miklusiak (so.), Lindsey Hawthorne (so.)
Outlook: “Our girls’ team should be greatly improved from last year,” said McKire. “Our girls have more experience and some additional talent to make us better and competitive in the I-8. We are anchored by Torey Fischer and Shylee Smith. They were our best runners last year and look to be stronger at the start of this season. We have set our goal to be in the top three of our conference. It will be tough but doable.”
Coach: Jim Pearl (third season) and Katie Reed (first season)
Last year: 3rd in SCAA Conference, 4th in Regionals, Two All-State individuals: Ava Strenge (State Champion) and Riley Rutherford.
Top returners: Riley Rutherford (sr.), Ava Strenge (jr.), Meagan Casterline (jr.), Emily Pearl (jr.).
Outlook: “Last year we had six girls on the team,” said Pearl. “We have experience some good growth and have 11 girls this year. We hope to be very competitive in our conference and qualify for the state finals as a team.”
Coach: Missy Hamilton (16th season)
Last year: Sixth in Big-Eight, fourth at Regionals
Top returners: Sara Parks (sr.), Skylar Golyar (jr.), Corra Hamilton (so.), Alora Garcia (so.)
Outlook: “The girls missed going to the state meet as a team by seven points at regionals last year,” said Hamilton. “They are very determined to make it this year.”
Coach: Ron Hart (30th season)
Last year: Incomplete team
Top returners: Brandy Mathewson (jr.), Kilee Hettich (jr.), Brenna Huggett (fr.).
Outlook: “After having only one runner last season (Mathewson), Kilee (Hettich) returns after a one year hiatus, and Brenna (Huggett) moves up from the junior high level,” said Hart. “Brandy made the state finals the past two seasons, and we look for her to be there again this year.”
Coach: Ken Broom (first season)
Top returners: Briana Uriostegui (sr.), Julia Jimenez (sr.).
Outlook: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,” said Broom, using Olympic long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine’s quote as a motivational tool for his team.
Coach: David Lodes (eighth season)
Last season: Eighth in SCAA
Top returners: Kaylyn Barthowlemew (so.).
Outlook: “Kaylyn just missed qualifying for state last year,” said Lodes. “Potentially could make a bid for the state finals this year.”
Coach: Jim Bilsborrow (40th season)
Top returners: Josilyn Quimby (jr.), Rene Aerts (so.)
Outlook: “We are still rebuilding,” said Billsborrow.
Coach: Marty Klein (12th season)
Last year: Incomplete team
Top Returners: Anessa Broker (sr.), Megan Persing (so.), Abby Stoll (sr.), Abby Fellers (so.)
Outlook: “We just want to keep improving and get a state qualifier out of the girls by the end of the season,” said Klein.
Coach: Dale Grimes (20th season)
Last year: Third in KVA, third in Barry County, third in Regionals, 20th in State Finals
Top returners: Megan Grimes (sr.), Danielle Cole (jr.), Maranda Donahue (so.), Ana Elliott (so.).
Outlook: “Senior Amanda West looks to contribute to the success of the 2015 team,” Grimes said. “With the consistent hard work and dedication she could be a significant member of the varsity team.”
Coach: Nicole Lewis (first season)
Last year: Fifth place or better in five of 11 meets.
Top returners: Ashley Rainey (jr.).
Outlook: “Ashley Rainey is a junior and the only participant for our girls’ team,” said Lewis. “She has already shown her leadership by coming out and really showing how high school cross country is run for our middle school participants.”
Coach: Brad Portis (38th season) and Anne Flynn (16th season)
Last year: SMAC East Champions, 3rd overall in SMAC, 5th in Regionals
Top Returners: Lily Fell (sr.), Sarah Sikkema (sr.), Lucy Tomer (sr.), Caroline McKay (jr.), Claire Halpin (jr.), Helen Foldenauer (jr.), Phoebe Ostlund (jr.).
Outlook: “A third of the team will be brand new to high school cross country,” said Portis. “But we return a super nucleus. We have great depth with talented and high ability runners to build around. Developing underclassmen runners, avoiding injuries, moving our middle of the pack runners up from last year and keeping our hard training kids from having tired legs will be the keys to our success.”
Coach: Rebecca Willis (15th season)
Last year: Fourth in Big Eight
Top returners: Anna Willis (jr.), Kayla Bryant (so.), Ashton Salow (sr.), Kristin Rafferty (sr.), Devin Willis (so.).
Outlook: “Both teams graduated key players, so this year is definitely what most would call a ‘building’ year,” said Willis. “I think we may surprise some with the girls’ team. There is a lot of potential.”
Coach: Tiffany Blakely (second season)
Last year: Sixth in GLAC, fifth in Barry County
Top returners: Alli Hickey (sr.), Hannah McGlocklin (so.), Carlee Allen (so.).
Outlook: “Our team expectations are to work on faster times, and either meet or better our position in the league,” said Blakely. “Our numbers are larger this year than in the past, but there is very little experience.”
Coach: Steve Wissink (17th season)
Last year: Fourth in the Interstate-Eight
Top returners: Abbey Ufkes (sr.), Hannah Koch (sr.), Asha Ritchie (sr.), Tiffany Gross (sr.), Rachel Schoepke (sr.), Hannah Delmotte (jr.), Olivia Hancock (so.).
Outlook: “We have a tradition of success here at Marshall, and this year should be a good one,” said Wissink. “We were disappointed with last season despite invitational wins, and we are looking forward to a great year. Our top three runners from last season are back (Ufkes, Schoepke, Hancock), and we’ve got several newcomers that will have an immediate impact.”
Coach: Mike Spoelstra (20th season)
Last year: Second in GLAC, Morgan Greenman qualified for State
Top returners: Morgan Greenman (jr.), Teona Fedpausch (jr.), Leah Amey (jr.), Gracie Mott (jr.), Kaylee Richardson (so.), Hazel Anderson (so.).
Outlook: “As always, we hope to be competitive in the GLAC and send some kids to State,” Spoelstra said. “This year I feel we have a great team with great kids, and expect to have a great season.”
Coach: Jim Crabbs
Last year: Second in Big Eight, two runners in State Finals (Haley Bean and Gabby Porter).
Top returners: Katie Spalding (sr.), Haley Bean (jr.), Gabby Porter (jr.), Madde Horn (jr.), Loren Reif (jr.), Nickole Loomis (jr.), Mrei Michael (so.).
Outlook: Coach Crabbs says his teams’ goals include winning the Big Eight, winning regionals, and finishing in the top ten at the State Finals.
“We have a very strong girls’ team this season,” said Crabbs. “We can do very well if we can minimize injuries.”
Coach: Brian Briegel (Tekonsha) and Dave Good (Marshall Academy)
Last year: Incomplete team
Outlook: Due to injury, illness, and relocation, Tekonsha/Marshall Academy co-op does not have any returning runners this season. Senior foreign exchange student Lisa Kuemmerie (MA), is the only representative for the Indians at this point.
Coach: Amber Case (first season)
Top returners: Holly Christy, Marionna Bigelow (fr.).
Outlook: “Our team is small but strong,” said Case. “We are excited about the young talent on the team and the contribution they will make in the 2015 season.”