The MHS cross country teams came flying out of the blocks in a pair of season-opening meets last week.
They both ranked second at Tuesday’s six-team Lakeland Invite, then the boys backed it up with a third at Thursday’s eight-team Hodag Invite.
“We came to slay the Hodags and the boys team did just that, MHS coach Craig Hoffman said. “Our boys finished in third place inching out Wausau East. Seniors Reese Beyersdorf, Brady Schmelling, Jacob Jensen and Losha Heisinger dominated the Merrill team, with strong finishes by sophomores Treven Oberg and Nathan Koch.
“Compared to the challenging hills of Winter State Park in Minoqua, this course was a welcome relief for both our boys and girls. Our Merill girls ran a little bit flat, no pun intended, but a couple of runners showed they can compete, with better finishes by Shelby Harris, Morgan Pettit and Mickenna Comstock. Kennedy Soderberg finished again as the top runner with a competitive time.”
Beyersdorf 10th, 18:49), Schmelling (11th, 18:54), Jensen (18th, 19:18), Heisinger (26th, 19:39), Oberg (29th, 19:52) Brett Swan (35th, 20:23) and Koch (39th, 20:36) helped Merrill undercut East by two points.
The girls finished sixth by counting on Soderberg (32nd, 19:26), Harris (35th, 19:49), Pettit (42nd, 20:21), Comstock (45th, 20:33), Elizabeth Danielzak (49th, 21:09), Christa Schleif (50, 21:12) and Lauren Case (51st, 21:48).
The T-Birds swept the top five boys’ places for a perfect score of 15.
“Our top five boys, seniors Schmelling, Beyersdorf, Heisinger, Jensen and Swan paved a new feeling of competition for our program. It was exciting to see four of them place in the top 10 runners for this meet.
“We have a great core group of runners that need to become a great core group of competitive runners if we want to make a splash in this year’s conference and sectional meet. Our coaches are pleased with the early efforts and our boys’ competitive spirit, and we hope is sustains itself throughout the season.”
“It definitely was a muggy, buggy and challenging first meet but our program received a boost in our performance with a rookie performance by junior Kennedy Soderberg.” Hoffman said. “Kennedy came through for us running a very good and very first grueling 5K. She raised the bar for the rest of our runners. Comstock, too, stepped it up for our program this year. It was a wake up call for our other runners to focus on preparing them for the new 5K running program for all girls this year.
Schmelling (6th, 20:04), Beyersdorf (7th, 20:07), Heisinger (8th, 20:14), Jensen (0th, 20:31) and Swan (13th, 21:00), Oberg (16th, 21:08) and Koch (24th, 21:54) figured for Merrill.
The girls ranked second with times from Soderberg (9th, 25:47), Comstock (18th, 28:00), Pettit (20th, 28:24), Harris (21st, 28:51), Danielzak (22nd, 28:50), Schleif 29th, 29:48) and Case (31st, 30:01).