West Central Area Boys and Girls Cross Country (Season Preview)
By John Van Kempen - Barrett, MN
Both the girls and boys Cross Country teams at West Central Area High School are coming off an excellent 2016 season. The boys were section champions last year but have lost the core of that group to graduation, while the girls were section runners-up by one point and will everyone back.
Ryley Nelson, Ethan Olson, Drake Swanson and Austin Clavin have graduated and left the Knights with years of experience and a competitive attitude that will be difficult to replace. We feel good about the 2017 team though, Jacob Bright, Jack Van Kempen, Kyle Schill, Chase Veldhouse and Hunter Mickelson all have varsity and a state experience under their belts. Returners Tim Ruud and Matt Poyzer have looked good in preseason workouts and it looks like there may some competition amongst the team for the top seven spots and that is always a good thing. Newcomer Caleb Goetz has switched from football to cross country. Caleb is very athletic and he also is a great wrestler and brings that mental toughness to our team. Some junior high boys (Reubens Swanson, Kade Runge and Alex Salwasser) may be able to break into the top seven as well. Perham again looks to be the favorite for the HOL title and New London Spicer for the section.
We are excited to see how the girls can progress as the season goes on. Everyone is a year older but that doesn’t always translate into a faster group. Senior Steph Toms and junior Ella Van Kempen are the veterans of the team and we will look to their leadership to guide us. Sophomore Teagan Nelson has made a good jump from where she was last year at this time. Freshman Brynn Fernholz and Chloe LaRue will also be counted on as will eighth graders Lexi Bright and Kennedy (Spike) Porter. Everyone will have a role to fill and each one will be important to reach a high level again this year for this group. We aren’t very deep with only ten girls total so keeping everyone healthy to get to the end of the season will help us out. Again, Perham will the team to beat for the HOL but Pelican Rapids will also be very good. For the section, I look to Eden Valley Watkins and Albany.