BY DAVID PEDERSEN
The main reason why Delano cross country coach Boak Wiesner says “Overall, things look rosy,” is because the boys graduated two of its top five from a year ago and the girls lost one out of the top eight.
“The fact that a lot of experience returns makes this an easy squad to coach and cheer for,” adds the coach. “This boys team is reminiscent of the 1995 squad, the most recent to have earned a trip to state, with one guy way out in front and then pairs of guys doing what they have to in the trenches for the team’s success.”
Again this year, junior Sam Thomas leads the boys by a large margin. He was seventh at the Wright County Conference meet last season. Wiesner said making the state meet is definitely in his sights.
Delano was third in the conference last year. Wiesner says a nice addition is sophomore Adam Armbruster, who has quickly moved to the No. 2 spot.
Tucker Sjomeling, a promising eighth-grader, was the No. 4 varsity runner last year. Sophomore Mike Bunker completes a solid top four.
Senior Trevor Reed and sophomore Matt Ditty run basically stride-for-stride most of the time at practice and in races which gives the varsity some good strength. Returner Jacob Hoen, a senior, looks to blow past his personal best time in the first meet says Wiesner. Depth is provided by sophomore Daniel Clark.
“Behind them are some returning runners who will be making those guys look over their shoulders to see who’s ready to jump into varsity,” said Wiesner about sophomore Cole Paskach, juniors Hunter Boisvert and Austin Green and eighth-graders J.T. Weiman and Jackson Kavanaugh.
So far just two newcomers to the sport have challenged on varsity, senior Nate Bressler and sophomore Isaak Erickson.
In the early going the girls team is led by senior Sarah Trocke, who returns much improved from last season. Providing a solid one-two punch up front is sophomore Emily Hartman, who was the top runner last season.
Eighth-grader Shanie Streachek surged into the No. 2 spot last year at the end of the season. She and senior Kiah Vanasse are right now working to get a little closer to team leaders.
Senior Julia Volker is back after being off last year and is the most experienced girl in the lineup entering her fifth season. Junior Colette Bersie returns after a “summer of some serious training.”
The progress of senior Ashley Simenson and junior Marcella Pappas is being hampered by some perplexing injuries. Simenson qualified for state in 2010 and Pappas was the No. 3 varsity runner last year.
“Since the learning curve of a cross country runner is close to vertical, rookie runners will evolve as the season progresses into solid competitors,” said Wiesner.
This year’s pack includes junior Meghan Finn-Bruhn, sophomores Olivia Jacobs and Kathryn Goldsmith and ninth grader Madaline Sladek.
With the expansion of the Wright County Conference to 11 teams, the Tiger team goal is to finish about sixth, but significantly up from the last couple of years.
Delano played host to a conference Jamboree last Monday at Lake Rebecca State Park. Other meets at the park are set for Sept. 13 and Oct. 11, which is the conference tournament. The next meet is 4 p.m. Thursday at Maple Lake.