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Spartans could sneak up on opponents

Somerset's Maggie Becher splashes through the knee-deep water at one of the river crossings during last week's Extreme Meet in River Falls. (Photo by Bob Burrows)

Cross country fans might not recognize many of the names on the 2013 Somerset Spartan roster.

By the end of the season, that could definitely change.

The Spartans are young and saw significant losses to graduation. Second-year coach Julie Mocadlo said the team has an upside that could surprise people.

In Brandon Mondor, Ethan Baillargeon and Cole Harty, Mocadlo said there are three boys who made an impact last year and put in a great deal of running in the offseason to be ready for this season. She said junior Austin Headlee is a good leader for the team. Noah Ashton is a newcomer to the boys team who shows promise.

"They're willing to work hard together in order to have a strong team," Mocadlo said.

Mocadlo said the team is still recruiting, trying to add more boys to the team. Andrew Thurmes, who was the Spartans' top finisher in the Middle Border Conference meet last year, joined the football program this fall.

Mocadlo said there were a number of seniors who graduated in the conference, so the Spartans aren't the only team that has to do some rebuilding. She said the Spartans have the ability to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference race.

"I think the lack of numbers might hurt us, but with a strong top five, it's hard to say," Mocadlo said.

Somerset's girls team is also extremely young. But an influx of girls from the soccer program has given the Spartans a chance to move up from their seventh place finish in the conference meet last season.

Soccer players Bailey Johnston, Alyssa Kelly and Lauren Sandy are making an immediate impact. They are joining returning runners Maggie Becher, Carrie Kulibert, Yosselyn Moncada and Laura Smith to give the Spartans a competitive top seven runners.

The girls team also has four freshmen who give the team a promising future. Mocadlo said Jesse Swanson looks to be the freshman who will be the first of the group to make an impact for the team.

The girls graduated a strong team leader in Grace Becher. Mocadlo said Kulibert has stepped up to take on the leadership role for this season's team.

The newer girls on the team have shown promising running skills. Mocadlo said the next step is teaching them the strategies involved in running distances.

"There's so much involved in pacing," Mocadlo said. "The meet experience really shows. I can see it with the boys who were freshmen last year. They have really stepped up."

The Spartans had their first race of the season last Thursday at River Falls. This is more of a fun run, weaving along trails through the woods and making several crossings of a stream.

The first true meet of the season for the Spartans will be this Thursday when they run in the St. Croix Central Invitational.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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