By Nick Beversdorf
After a rain cancellation and homecoming scheduling off another meet, the Bluejay runners hit the freshly frosted trails out behind the MARC Saturday morning, competing against Eagan, Medford, Shawano, Wausau East and Wausau West.
The lady Jays ran well, with Sophomore Dalie Thomas placing in the top 10 runners with a time of 20:52.8. Merrill girls varsity placed fifth out of six teams with a total team time of 115:05.1 and team average of 23:01.1. After Dalie, Senior Deanta Saunders placed second in the team with a time of 22:56.3. Junior Lily Reimann placed third with a time of 23:34.1, Sophomore Hunter Zecca fourth with a time of 23:37.0, Junior Autumn Schenzel fifth with a time of 24:04.9 and Sophomore Sophie Schenzel sixth with a time of 25:18.9.
For the girls JV team, Junior Allie Becker placed first on the team and tenth overall with a time of 23:37.0. The Merrill team placed fourth out of four teams with a total team time of 129:45.5 and average team time of 25:57.1. Freshman Kalie Lee placed second on the team with a time of 24:34.0, Senior Sarah Gessler placed third with a time of 25:51.9, Freshman Isabella Laufenberg fourth with a time of 26:51.2, Senior Brianna Grosskurth fifth with 28:51.4, Senior Allie Turenne sixth with 28:59.4 and Senior Chelsey LaMonica seventh with 29:57.6.
“With a two-week hiatus from competitive running (rain cancelled one meet and homecoming scheduled off), I figured either we would be stale and had to find that groove again, or our runners would take off and lower their seasonal personal times,” stated Coach Hoffman.
“The results showed it was a mixed bag. Some of our runners ran outstanding races and others ran a wee bit flat. For the girl runners, I was truly impressed with varsity sophomore runner Dalie Thomas. She ran with supreme effort and it paid off with a ninth place medal for our top runner. JV Junior runner Allie Becker ran an outstanding race. She finished strong and lowered her personal best by almost two minutes. She looked strong at the beginning and finished strong, so I’m really excited about her running in the Conference Varsity line up.
“Additionally, Junior Lily Reimann and Sophomore Hunter Zecca continued to improve their times and move up close behind our senior varsity runner, Deanta Saunders. We are peaking at the right time and hopefully this will play well next Saturday at our Conference Meet in Spencer hosted by Marshfield.”
The boys varsity team placed sixth out of six teams, with Sophomore Stephen Koch leading the team at 18:50.4 in first place and 24th overall. The team had a combined team time of 95:59.4 and an average of 19:11.9. In second was Senior Andrie Heisinger with a time of 19:06.5, Senior Nathan Koch in third with 19:17.6, Sophomore Ethan Halfman in fourth with 19:20.1, Freshman Dominic Laufenberg in fifth with 19:24.8, Freshman Ethan Cordova in sixth with 19:56.3 and Junior Jacob Novitch in seventh with 20:17.7.
The JV team placed fifth out of six teams with a combined team time of 112:13.5 and an average of 23:00.3, with Sophomore Alic Berreth placing first in the team and 20th overall with a time of 20:14.7. Sophomore David Genrich placed second with a time of 21:18.3, Junior Brody Gehrke third with 22:30.5, Senior Austyn Stoerzer fourth with 23:53.1, Senior Trevor Stadler fifth with 24:16.9, Freshman Austin Dahl sixth with 24:56.4 and Freshman Makyah Goetsch seventh with 25:45.1.
“On the boys side, Sophomore Stephen Koch did a really nice job for us and continues to lower his racing results,” adds Hoffman. “He’s our number one runner right now and we need to move the other runners up to him with pack running to improve our chances of keeping out of the cellar for our Conference race.
“Freshmen Dominic Laufenberg and Ethan Cordova continue to impress me with their race performances and their willingness to leave all of their efforts on course. If they continue to channel their energies toward the finish line and keep up the fitness training and running workouts, they will leave this season fully prepared to stay in shape for next season.
“I see so much potential from all of our runners. Our work ethic is good, our fitness training is good, our team integrity is being mastered, so now we need to put all of this together to place well in the Conference and ultimately show up ready to race in our sectional meet in a couple of weeks. Staying focused remains our only nemesis, and we’re going to lick that too!”
Merrill Cross Country will travel to Marshfield (Frey Field) on Saturday for a varsity conference meet, time TBD.