Merrill runners check out Valley foes in 18-team SPASH Invite
The Bluejay runners stepped up to a high-level meet at Stevens Point’s Standing Rocks Park on Saturday. The boys hit the mid-point of the competition, finishing 9th of 18 squads, while the girls ended up 17th.
“We have our own little Pack Attack,” commented MHS coach Craig Hoffman. “Our boys and girls programs are beginning to understand that when you race with a ‘pack attack’ attitude you help each other out and the results showed itself in Saturday’s meet.”
Ethan Schneider ran 31st in 18:12, and he was backed up by Reese Beyersdorf (41st, 18:25), Jacob Jensen (51st, 18:51), Andrew Koch (58th, 19:05), Brett Swan (61st, 19:14), Brady Schmelling (62nd, 19:18) and Losha Heinsinger (69th, 19:46).
” ‘Pack running’ seemed to be working for the boys teams,” Hoffman said. “Both varsity and JV results showed a concerted attempt at pack running. Our top six varsity runners of Schneider, Beyersdorf, Jensen, Andrew Koch, Swan and Schmelling showed that any one of them could be the top finisher for the Bluejays.
“I believe our boys still have a lot of stored energy that they haven’t even tapped yet. If we can convince them that they need to leave more of themselves on the course, they will finish much higher and feel a lot better at the end of the race. I’d love to see all of my boys collapse at the end of the chute proving that they ‘gave their all.’ I’m hoping at conference and sectionals this will play out.
“Additionally, most of our JV boys stayed with each other right through the finish. Our depth of running is increasing and it holds our varsity boys accountable as well.”
The girls teamed up with Morgan Pettit (80th, 18:38), Christa Schleif (85th, 18:47), Ashley Berton (88th, 18:55), Lauren Case (92nd, 19:07), Shelby Harris (95th, 19:15) and Mickenna Comstock (110th, 20:23).
“Our top three varsity girls of Pettit, Schleif and Berton played off each other until the final finish,” Hoffman said. “Then our next mini-pack attack came from Case, Harris and Comstock a wee bit later. We would’ve had all seven runners place in a pack, but a fall, roll and injury took out an up-and-coming runner, senior Caylin McCarthy. Caylin suffered a terrible sprain to her foot. Our coaching staff is really pleased with the continued efforts of our girl harriers.
“We still have a long race ahead of us before we peak as the season winds down, but in the meantime we are jockeying for position when comparing conference results. Our physical preparation is there, but, now we need to focus on the ‘can-do’ efforts when competing.”
Team scores: Boys-SPASH 23, Baraboo 87, Wausau West 126, Beaver Dam 130, D.C. Everest 137, Nekoosa 180, Waupaca 195, Wausau East 227, Merrill 242, Wis. Rapids 266, Rosholt 318, Wis. Rapids Assumpt. 367, Adams/Friendship 367, Edgar 381, Auburndale 406, Iola 416, Amherst inc., S.P. Pacelli inc…….Girls-SPASH 34, Beaver Dam 53, W.E. 136, D.C.E. 173, W.W. 191, Amherst 218, Baraboo 226, Phillips 237, Waupaca 251, Nekoosa 299, Edgar 300, A/F 314, S.P.P. 315, Iola 317, Rosholt 329, Wis. Rap. 387, Merrill 440, Auburndale 470.