Season Preview: New Richmond runners start season at opposite ends of spectrumThe New Richmond cross country teams start the season at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The New Richmond cross country teams start the season at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum.
New Richmond’s girls team returns all seven girls who ran when the Tigers won the 2010 Middle Border Conference championship. Conversely, the Tiger boys could be one of the youngest teams in the MBC this season.
The New Richmond girls won the 2010 MBC title by having all seven runners place among the top 24 finishers in the meet. All seven of those runners are back. And after a serious dedication to their summer running and strength program, they are better than ever.
As strong as the Tigers were last year, they can’t afford to rest on their laurels. There was just one senior among the top 27 finishers in the 2010 MBC race, meaning the Tigers aren’t alone in returning all their talent. Osceola placed third last year and the Chieftains bring back all seven of their runners. Amery and Ellsworth also return significant groups of their top runners from last season’s team.
Seniors Morgan Kelly, Kat Keller and Bailey Matthys, juniors Emily Bischof, Ellen Meisner and Anne Frank and sophomore Maddie Kelly ran for the Tigers at the conference meet last season. Tiger coach Beth Kelly said that group has been dedicated to their summer running schedule and the Tiger Strength program to improve upon last season.
The Tigers also can’t afford to get complacent because of the competition within the team. With 23 girls out for the team, there are other girls who are looking to step up and challenge for spots in the varsity lineup.
Coach Kelly said the Tigers are clearly focused on adding to their string of conference championships. The Tigers have won the past four titles and winning the MBC championship again would be the crowning achievement of their season.
The Tigers compete in Division 1 in the WIAA tournament series. Division 1 is a massive step up from Division 2 in cross country. While the Tiger girls would have likely reached the state meet in Division 2 last year, they were in the middle of the pack among the teams at the Division 1 sectional meet.
Coach Kelly said the girls are aiming to improve upon that finish this year, hoping to finish among the top five teams in the sectional meet.
New Richmond’s boys finished sixth in the Middle Border Conference meet last year. Seniors Alec Knox and Charlie Kleiner and juniors Alex “Chaz” Charbonneau and Casey Schuh return after running in the conference meet last season.
Charbonneau missed much of last season with an injury and Coach Kelly said he is viewed as the leader of the Tiger boys team.
Charbonneau and Kleiner are the captains of the boys team, while Matthys and Morgan Kelly are the girls captains. Coach Kelly said the captains “have a great chemistry” and they’ve worked hard in the off-season to set up a plan of success for the team. The captains did most of the planning for the team’s annual camping trip to Spooner during the second week of the pre-season.
There are 20 boys out for the team and more than half of them are competing for a spot in the varsity lineup. Coach Kelly said as many as 12 are ready to push their way into the varsity seven.
In addition to the four returning runners, seniors Alex Anderson and Walter DeKock, junior Ben Norman and freshmen Zach Schoepke and Jack Utzman are leading contenders to earn varsity spots early in the season.
Moving up from last season’s sixth place finish at the MBC meet will be challenge for the boys team. Several of the teams that finished ahead of the Tigers bring back significant parts of their varsity lineup. That’s led by Ellsworth, which returns four of the top seven finishers in last year’s conference race. Charbonneau was the Tigers’ top finisher among the boys last season, placing 14th in the conference meet.
Coach Kelly is excited about the possibilities that the freshman boys offer. There are eight freshmen boys out for the team.
“It would be great if they can stick together (for four years). They could do great things,” Kelly predicted.