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Patriots to build on state berth

Front Row, from left: Gray Gitchell, Emma Brinkman, Cassidy Chaney, Jesse Clausen, Kam Lee, Max Johnston and Eloise Gitchell. Middle Row: Jannah Hall, Rachel Friberg, Kristin Skog, Grace McGuire, Brooks Anderson, Ben Nelson, Ben Golden and Trever Slaybaugh. Back Row: Reid Pierzinski, Jacob Tschida, Tony Fitzer, Marty Fitzer, Karl Brine-Doyle, Russell Pierzinski, Cody Huss, Sean Ryan and Sam Person. Photo by Dan Determan

After a strong 2015 season under rookie coach Jeff Brever, the Pequot Lakes cross country teams will try to improve on their previous efforts and their offseason training as the 2016 season begins.

The Patriot boys team finished second in the Midwest Conference, earning a state meet berth and finishing eighth in Class 2A.

The boys team returns 10 of its top 12 runners from last year. Reid Pierzinski placed 41st overall at state and Tony Fitzer placed 46th overall at state.

In addition to those two, other returning letterwinners include Jacob Tschida, Max Johnston, Cody Huss, Marty Fitzer, Russell Pierzinski, Karl Brine-Doyle, Sam Person and Ben Golden.

"We are looking to improve from an eighth-place finish at state last year," Brever said. "We are senior heavy with a lot of experience. Many runners ran 100-plus miles over the summer with high hopes of making a statement and improving last year's times. It will be exciting throughout the year to see who will emerge and be a force to reckon with at the end of the year."

The girls team is short on number, having fewer than 10 girls out for the sport. After finishing third in the conference last season, however, they expect a positive presence from Grace McGuire, Kristin Skog and Jannah Hall - three of the four runners on the state-champion 4x800-meter relay team - as well as returning letterwinners Cassidy Chaney, Rachel Friberg and Eloise Gitchell.

"The girls team is looking to bounce back from last year. We had 13 girls competing last year. Three girls were sixth-graders, and three girls were first year cross-country runners. We are looking to provide a solid varsity squad to compete at sections. Grace McGuire was five seconds away from going to state. We are hoping to expand and form teams at all levels."

Assistant coaches are Grace Balfanz and Ben Starns.

Dan Determan

Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper.

(218) 855-5879