May 25, 2024

Knights tap strong numbers after losing nine to graduation

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After graduating nine seniors last spring, the West Central Area Knights cross country teams will have to tap into its younger runners to fill out the varsity roster in 2022.

“We lost nine seniors last season,” said Austin Hanson, who returns as head coach for a second season. “They were great leaders with a ton of experience to draw from, but we have bounced back and have a great core of young talent in store.”

Returning to the Lady Knights include 2021 state entrant Terina Blascyk, who is a junior captain this season. Blascyk is the only returning Heart O’ Lakes all-conference runner from 2021 for either team.

The girls also return varsity runner Alexa Blume and Kyra Beyer.

“Our top runners for the girls should be Taylor Bennett, Terina Blasyck, Kyra Beyer, Alexa Blume, Blaire Reuter,” Hanson said.

Reuter ran in two varsity meets in 2021 while Bennett did not compete at the varsity level.

“For the girls, we are hoping to see some of the younger runners make a leap,” Hanson said. “Runners like Whitney Blume, Kyra Beyer, Cassidy Reuter, and Ava Lohse will be very important for us late in the season. It will be fun to see their progression throughout the next few months!”

The WCA boys cross country team advanced to the 2021 state meet as a team and will return a handful from that roster, including Roman Mihailovschi, Eli Bergman, Neko Moran, Noah Olson, and Aaron Biss.

“Our top runners should be Roman Mihailovschi, Eli Bergman, Neko Moran, and Noah Olson for the boys team,” Hanson said.

Olson was predominantly a JV runner last year, but he is one of the younger boys looking to make an impact on varsity this season.

“Plenty of young runners are looking forward to stepping up this year. Simon Moritz and Noah Olson were predominantly JV runners last year, but they are looking to make a leap and contribute to the team,” Hanson said of the boys roster. “New runners like Isaac Allen, Zeke Sieckert, and Michael Girard could have a big impact and may make decisions difficult for us!”

In the early part of the season, it will be interesting to see how these younger runners adapt to longer races, Hanson said.

“We will grow with race strategy as the season progresses. Many of the younger runners have either never ran a 5K race, or very few.  With every passing race, they will get smarter,” Hansons said.

The West Central Area cross country team has a tradition of success for the past several seasons. The goal to do well at the end of the season always remains the same.

“We are prepared to compete for some of the top seeds in the section. We are young, but with that gives us potential to surprise some people at the end of the season,” Hanson said.

“Over the past few years, many of our runners have leaned into the program that we set in front of them,” Hanson said. “More importantly, this year they are one big family that’s having fun and that’s the secret sauce! Running can be a bit boring for many, but when the captains make it fun it goes a long way to making the hard days seem easier.”

The Knights open the season Aug. 29 at Staples-Motley and will not have a home meet in 2022. The closest event to home base will be the Minnewaska meet on Oct. 11, in Glenwood.

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