2012 Preview: New-look Somerset cross country team could be a contenderThere’s a new look to the Somerset cross country program this fall. The Spartans have a new coach and there are a number of new members of the team, especially on the boys roster.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
There’s a new look to the Somerset cross country program this fall. The Spartans have a new coach and there are a number of new members of the team, especially on the boys roster.
There are 16 runners on the Somerset boys team this fall and only one-quarter of that group has run with the team in the past. The Spartan girls have nine members on their team.
The new coach is Julie Mocadlo, who is in her second year as a physical education instructor in the school district. Mocadlo has an impressive running background. She ran four years of cross country and track at Wisconsin Rapids before moving on to UW-La Crosse. She ran four years for the Eagles, competing at nationals all four years. She continues to compete in races, all the way up to marathons.
The Somerset boys went on a recruiting spree during the off-season and were able to find a number of promising runners. A strong freshman class is also going to have an immediate impact for the boys team.
Senior Josh Verdeja has stepped up to be the lead runner for the Spartans in their pre-season work.
“He is a strong leader. It’s nice to have someone take charge,” Mocadlo said. “Everyone looks up to him.”
Seniors Emmitt Foster and Billy Schmitt also return to the team, giving the roster strong veterans to rally around.
Freshmen Brandon Mondor and Ethan Baillargeon made an immediate impact for the Spartans in their first full race of the season last Thursday at St. Croix Central. Mondor placed eight among the 130 runners in the 13-team field and Baillargeon placed 29th. Both are products of the Spartan junior high running program.
Mocadlo said the boys team quickly developed an identity and the group’s attitude should help the boys continue to grow. Winning the championship at St. Croix Central showed that the team’s talent is legitimate.
“We are a real good pack running team,” she said, pointing to the fact that the split between the first and fifth Spartan runners on Thursday was just over 90 seconds. For a team that isn’t long on experience, that’s an impressive way to start the season.
Among the new additions who are making an immediate impact for the Spartan boys are sophomore Andrew Thurmes and senior Keenan Strom.
The depth among the boys is something Mocadlo wants to build upon as a strength for the team.
“It’s important to have seven solid runners. We’re expecting runners 6-10 to push each other,” she said.
Because the boys weren’t a factor last season, it is giving them inspiration to make an impact in this year’s Middle Border Conference race.
“I think we’ll be right up there,” Mocadlo predicted for the MBC meet. “That is our main focus, to be the best we can be at that point.”
The Spartan girls don’t possess the runners who can have the same level of success as the boys at this point, but Mocadlo sees a bright future for the girls team. Senior Grace Becher is in her fourth year in the varsity lineup and will be the team’s lead runner.
“Grace is a great leader and her times will get even better. She’s a really hard worker,” Mocadlo said.
Mocadlo is looking for the next group of runners to step up and run with Becher. She includes juniors Yosselyn Moncada and Carrie Kulibert and sophomores Maggie Becher and Laura Smith in that group. Sophomores Kat Ryther and Kaitlyn Raber are new to cross country, but Mocadlo said they have the potential to grow into significant roles with the team.
Instead of making specific goals for any meet, Mocadlo said her goal for the girls team is to continue improving their times with each meet they run.