By Nick Beversdorf
Bluejay cross country (both varsity and JV) traveled to Standing Rock Park in Stevens Point on Saturday to run against teams from all over Wisconsin in an invitational. Stevens Point dominated all events which included the boys varsity and JV and girls varsity and JV.
The Merrill varsity boys placed 15th out of 17 teams that placed with a team result of 392. In the six-man team, Stephen Koch placed first (19:01.3), Andrei Heisingser second (19:07.5), Dominic Laufenberg third (20:19.6), Jacob Novitch fourth (20:20.4), Ethan Cordova fifth (20:20.7) and Ethan Hoffman sixth (21:08.5).
The varsity girls placed 14th out of 21 teams that placed with a team result of 368. For the seven-person team, Dalie Thomas placed first (21:40.4), Deanta Saunders second (21.52.4), Hunter Zecca third (23:56.3), Lily Reimann fourth (24:02.8), Anne Herdt fifth (24:12.6), Autumn Schenzel sixth (24:35.5) and Sophie Priebe seventh (25:10.1).
The JV boys team placed eighth out of 10 teams that placed with a team result of 248. The six-man team included Alic Berreth who placed first (21:18.3), Brody Gehrke second (22:03.4), Alex Gehrke third (23:16.3), David Genrich fourth (23:29.7), Trevor Stadler fifth (24.48.2) and Mykyah Goetsch sixth (25:51.6).
The JV girls did not place in the invitational. The four-person team included Allie Becker who placed first (25:24.9), Sarah Gessler second (27:27.5), Kallie Lee third (27:28.2) and Isabella Laufenburg fourth (27:41.7).
“Our teams are right where we should be after Saturdays meet results,” commented Hoffman. “Many of our runners ran a personal best, some by over a minute, so we’re on the right track. We need to continue our ‘pack’ running strategy and we need to bring others along to the point where they can interfere with our conference foes point spread.
“With that said, some individuals really came through for us. Sophomore Dalie Thomas ran a tremendous race, followed closely by Senior Deanta Saunders. Additionally, Sophomore Hunter Zecca and Junior Lilly Reimann are clearly coming into their own special efforts. Our boys finish results showed that our two freshman, Ethan Cordova and Dominic Laufenberg, are in the hunt for permanence on the varsity team and that they want to be near or on the top rung for runners.
“I love the team competitive spirit we are experiencing this year,” stated Hoffman. “It’s good for the program. The next few weeks, we will be competing with some of the best in the state so we need to keep our focus during the weekday practices and put it all together for the Saturday running events.”
Merrill, along with many other teams, will compete in the 60-team Smiley Invitational at Tribute Golf Course in Wausau on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.