BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Despite returning the top four boys on Delano’s cross country team, coach Boak Wiesner says this team looks like it did last year.
The Tigers would have four runners near the top of the pack, but then had a big gap until the fifth and final team score came through.
“Until someone steps it up, we’ll be just as good as last year,” said Wiesner, who has coached the Tigers for 29 years. “Could it be Matt Ditty or could it be one of the newcomers? Time will tell.”
The boys finished fourth in the conference and sixth in the section last year. Hutchison is the team to beat in both this year, as it already is ranked in the state pole.
The top four Tiger runners back are senior Sam Thomas, juniors Adam Armbruster and Dan Clark and ninth-grader Tucker Sjomeling, who claimed a state wrestling title as an eighth-grader.
The varsity includes seniors Austin Green and Niklas Boatman, plus juniors Ditty, Mike Bunker, Cole Paskach, Isaak Erickson and Seth Streachek. The lone sophomore is Michael Dahl.
Other ninth-graders include Jackson Kavanagh, Ben Rietow, Brad Tulkki, Charlie Otto, Logan Rieder and John Goebel. Reier Sjomeling is a seventh-grader.
The Tiger girls were slowed by injuries to leading runners, including junior Emily Hartman and ninth-grader Shanie Streachek. Wiesner said how good they will be is anyone’s guess.
Last season the girls placed eighth in the league and 12th in the section. Annandale and Waconia are teams to beat.
Newcomer Linsey Tolkinnen has been a front runner at every practice as a junior. Ninth-grader Calli Cederberg joined the team late but looks to have some potential.
“For the first time in a long while, there are several returning athletes,” said Wiesner. “Hence, every race won’t be a learning experience. The top seven through the season will be a mix of old and new as rookies get better and start running on varsity.”
Other runners with varsity experience include sophomore Madeline Sladek, plus juniors Olivia Jacobs, junior Hanna Olstad.
The varsity includes sophomores Rachel Oeffling and Nikki Hannan, eighth-grader Lauren Degn and seventh-grader Ellen Armbruster.
The season gets started at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5 at the 20-team Rockford Invitational at Shamrock golf course in Corcoran. Delano will enter the Norwood-Young America Invitational Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Delano’s Invitational is 4:15 p.m. Sept. 12 at Lake Rebecca. The field includes Rockford.