Merrill runners hit the trail twice
The Bluejay cross country team jumped both feet into a new season last week, competing in the Ted Voigt Invite at Minocqua’s Clear Lake State Park on Tuesday and heading on to Thursday’s Hodag Invite in Rhinelander.
The boys scored 73 to edge out Rhinelander (76) and Medford (77) and Rapids (81) for second place behind Lakeland (36) on Tuesday, while the girls placed third in the five-team meet.
“It was like running in a tropical forest,” MHS coach Craig Hoffman said. “The heat, humidity, the soggy forest and time of day all contributed to an exhausting race completed by all Merrill runners.
“It’s a good meet to see how are runners are doing after their first week of programmed training after the summer season comes to a halt. We noticed that many of our runners had a wide-eyed experience when faced with definitive cross country trails this first meet. Our boys showed some promise and ability with the efforts of Reese Byersdorf, Ethan Schneider, Andrew Koch and Jacob Jensen. Not far behind these top four, the running of Brett Swan, Brady Schmelling and newcomer freshman, Drake Hirte, demonstrated that when we get into top shape, we can contend with our valley foes.
“The Merrill girls displayed breakthrough possibilities with the efforts of Ashley Berton, Christa Schleif, Morgan Pettit, Shelby Harris and Sarah Ponzer. Ashley, Christa and Morgan especially put special efforts by placing in the top ten medal winner category. Our female numbers may be low in number, but they certainly display high ambitions in doing well this year. I’m proud of our runners in their commitment to making this a memorable year for our running program here at MHS.”
The boys were paced by Byersdorf (7th, 19:49), Schneider (13th, 20:45), Koch (16th, 21:16), Jensen (18th, 21:44), Swan (19th, 21:50), while Schmelling (25th, 22:26) and Hirte (28th, 22:55) ran. The girls were led by Berton (6th, 19:34), Schleif (8th, 20:06), Pettit (9th, 20:44), Harris (23rd, 21:46) and Ponzer (26th, 22:02), and Mickenna Comstock (28th, 22:14) and Rachael Romanowski (31st, 24:22) competed.
Team scores: Boys-Lakeland 36, Merrill 73, Rhinelander 76, Medford 77, Wis. Rapids 81……Girls-Lakeland 21, Rapids 65, Merrill 72, Rhinelander 101, Medford 106.
The Bluejay boys ranked sixth and the girls seventh in Thursday’s eight-team event.
“Missing athletes due to other school commitments may have cost us a team place or two for both of our teams, but our Bluejay runners competed fairly well with a few runners showing improvement in their race strategies,” Hoffman stated. “Most impressive were freshman runners Nathan Koch, Drake Hirte, Wyatt Symonds and Treven Oberg. These boys stepped up and ran a good race for our team to help us stay within reach of a couple of teams.
“Our girl results of the meet, again showed that our small number of runners have to perform well each meet because there are very few runners to step in and step up to compete. I like the determination of this small team, and I believe that once in shape, these girls can go ‘big’ with their few numbers” Hoffman stated. “Additionally, the Hodag Meet sees a mixture of valley and northwoods teams that help our coaching strategies for improvement. The Hodag Meet will help us start setting our course on our upcoming Varsity and JV meets scheduled for the next few weeks. As always, this meet displays the talents of some of the best teams in the area, as well as showing what our coaching needs are in conditioning and speed work.”
Placing for the boys were: Beyersdorf (17th, 19:25), Jensen (24th, 20:03), Swan (25th, 20:06), Nathan Koch (34th, 21:09), Hirte (39th, 21:43), backed by Symonds (42nd, 21:53) and Oberg (43rd, 21:55). Working for the girls were: Berton (21st, 18:32), Schleif (29th, 20:05), Harris (33rd, 20:31), Romanowski (35th, 20:39) and McCarthy (41st, 21:46), covered by Comstock (42nd, 21:50) and Bailey Mogenson (47th, 23:07).
Team scores: Boys-D.C. Everest 39, Wausau West 56, Rhinelander 90, Antigo 100, Wausau East 117, Merrill 139, Cradon 216, Laona 243…….Girls-W.E. 39, D.C.E. 50, W.W. 57, Northland Pines 134, Rhinelander 156, Three Lakes 157, Merrill 159, Crandon 218.