The Merrill runners stepped up to a high level of competition in Saturday’s SPASH Invite. The boys ranked eighth in the 19-team race, while the girls were 15th. Their hosts captured both meets.
“With a brisk, sunny Saturday the Merrill Cross Country team ran some brisk and encouraging times,” MHS coach Craig Hoffman said. “Our boys team ran as a pretty good pack and finished in the top half. I was encouraged with some of their first-mile times, which proved that some of our workouts are proving beneficial.
“Our girls team showed some good individual efforts, especially juniors Kennedy Soderberg and Shelby Harris, but we need to bring the rest of the team into a type of pack running that encourages each other throughout the race. Newcomer sophomores Gabby Schlegal, Hollie Dewar and Mercede Valliere showed they had some spunk in their tanks and showed some nice improvement.
“Every team out there wants their runners together in the top third of the running pack, and that’s my goal as well. The girls work extremely hard during the week, so my goal is for them to reward themselves for that work by doing well at the Saturday meet. The idea is not just to run, but to race. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I wouldn’t trade any of these kids, they’re part of being a Bluejay.”
A group of Jacob Jensen, Brett Swan and Brady Schmelling packed 48th-50th in 18:26, 18:27 and 18:29, and Treven Oberg (56th, 18:39) and Losha Heisinger (62nd, 18:55) closed the scoring. Nathan Koch (87th, 20:05) also competed.
The girls were paced by Soderberg (71st, 23:35), Harris (97th, 25:13), Mickenna Comstock (103rd, 25:35), Christa Schleif (108th, 25:56), Morgan Pettit (113th, 26:14) and Elizabeth Danielzak (116th, 26:30).
Team scores–Boys–SPASH 48, Baraboo 90, Port Washington 94, D.C.E. 107, Beaver Dam 113, Nekoosa 161, Wausau W. 199, Merrill 250, Wausau E. 263, W.R. Assump. 272, Waupaca 285, Wis. Rapids 295, Rosholt 306, Edgar 386, Auburndale 445, Amherst 461, Iola-Scan. 516, Adams-Friend. inc. S.P. Pacelli inc…….Girls–SPASH 25, D.C.E. 101, Wausau E. 118, Beaver Dam 124, Wausau W. 151, Phillips 177, Rosholt 192, Iola-Scan. 202, Port Wash. 227, Waupaca 246, Baraboo 254, Nekoosa 314, Edgar 369, Wis. Rapids 394, Merrill 426, Ad.-Fr inc., Amherst inc., Aub. inc., S.P. Pac. inc.
The boys were missing top runner Reese Beyersdorf.
“Some of the JV runner times showed great encouragement for our program,” Hoffman said. “The efforts of senior Brandon McCarthy and freshman William Leischer showed we have some depth to our running teams. We have a few injuries that kept a few of our runners out, but knowing that we have other runners hungry for a varsity spot only help out our goal for conference and sectional upcoming meets.”