New look Wingers cross-country teams ready for fallRed Wing’s boys cross-country team has had a clear-cut No. 1 runner for the past several years, but after the graduation of Christian Leitner, the Wingers will have to rely more upon a collective effort.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing’s boys cross-country team has had a clear-cut No. 1 runner for the past several years, but after the graduation of Christian Leitner, the Wingers will have to rely more upon a collective effort.
In addition to graduating Leitner, Red Wing will also have to replace Jordy Hassemer and Trent VanLoon.
Red Wing finished third at the Missota Conference meet last season after winning the conference title the four previous seasons.
Junior Aiden Winn, an all-conference honorable mention winner from last season, appears as one of the returning runners who could slot into that No. 1 runner role. Winn ran in the top three for the team for much of last season and head coach Jesse Nelson said Winn is ready for the increased role.
“Aiden is ready to step in to the leadership role and being the top dog,” Nelson said. “I think he’ll embrace that role.”
The Wingers finished sixth at the section meet in a deep section field. Owatonna won the meet for the second consecutive year and went to the state meet for the fifth consecutive year.
Sophomore Marcus Warrington ran in the team’s top five and is another runner Red Wing will rely upon. Warrington finished 58th at the section meet last season.
Junior Joe Partington and junior Ryan Schnaith cracked the top five at times last season and will compete for spots in the top five again.
Nelson said the team is already where it left off from last season in terms of times because of the summer work team members performed. Team members ran on an almost daily basis as a group, Nelson said.
Other contributors Nelson expects are sophomore Meyer Beckner, senior Lucas Bryant, freshman George Nemanich and sophomore Ty Buck.
Wingers girls return veteran lineup
Red Wing brings back three runners from its top five last season and that lineup has some experience and talent.
Senior Kelsee Anderson, who just missed out on a trip to the state meet last season with a 13th-place finish at the section meet, returns, as does junior Lindsay Scribner and eighth-grader Elise Leise.
Scribner finished 21st at the section meet last season and Leise took 82nd. Both put together strong track seasons in the spring and have put in the work in the summer to prepare for the fall.
Nelson said that Scribner will challenge Anderson this season for the top spot on the team, which will be good for the rest of the team.
“The competition between those two is going to make our whole team better,” Nelson said. “All the kids do a consistent job of running every day.”
Scribner finished 14th in the 3,200-meter race and Leise finished 13th in the 800 at the section track meet in the spring.
Red Wing’s 4x800 relay team won the Missota Conference title and three of the legs of that relay will run on the cross-country team. Anderson, Leise and Adrienne Hicks ran on the relay along with Abbey Schnaith, who graduated in the spring. Hicks joined the cross-country team for the first time this spring.
“The top three kids are in great shape,” Nelson said. “Those three are right where they finished up last year.”
Red Wing finished 10th last year at the section meet and took fourth at the conference meet. Anderson earned all-conference honors with a sixth-place finish while Scriber earned honorable mention honors.
The Wingers will have to replace Cori Fairbanks, who graduated in the spring and junior Shayna Ramstad, who did not return for the fall season. Both ran in the top five for Red Wing last season, but Nelson has options to replace both.
In addition to Hicks, Nelson said junior Hailee Johnson, junior Julia Hofer and senior Tesha Buck could figure into those spots, along with junior Kelsey Reding, who cracked the top five at times last season.
“The attitudes are great,” Nelson said. “It just keeps getting better and better. They’re doing everything that I ask of them. They’re pushing each other. We’re going to see dividends right away.”
Red Wing begins the season Thursday.
The Minnesota State High School League has increased the number of qualifiers for the state meet this season by extending the number to the top 10 runners outside of the top two teams, which mean more opportunities to reach the state meet.