There is some uncertainty surrounding the Wauseon cross country team and their expectations for the upcoming season. The reason for those questions, the loss of a few runners with experience at the state meet.
On the girls side, the Indians have to replace the bulk of their runners that as a team advanced to state in 2014.
“We have a very small squad of six girls this year,” said coach Joe Allen of his girls. “Four out of those six have never competed at the high school level.”
Gone from last year’s state qualifying team are Taylor Vernot, Aleea Volkman, Aneesa Volkman, Lela Slattman and Danielle Saaf. The loss of Vernot will especially hurt as she finished third in the state last year and was a state champion in 2013.
“This year we are definitely going to go through some growing pains,” concluded Allen. “We hope to work out those kinks early in the year and be ready to make another postseason run.”
Returning letter winners for the Indians are seniors Seneca Wyse and Amanda Stutzman. They also bring in newcomers Kasey Darnell, Brianna Coblentz, Vasti Becerril and Hannah Richer.
The Wauseon boys return five letter winners from last season, but will go without state placer Quintin Reiser who is running for Mississippi State University in the fall. Also gone from last year’s squad is Eddie Borders (regional qualifier).
However, returning for the Indians are Caleb Blanchong (regional qualifier), Kyle Knierim (regional qualifier), Aaron Beck (regional qualifier), Seth Hutchison (regional qualifier) and Kyle Vernot (regional qualifier).
“The boys lost a great front runner in Quintin Reiser,” explained Allen. “The boys understand that his departure is going to make things very difficult, but they also understand that they can make up for his departure by running as a pack. This is a strategy they have been working on the first week or so of practice and I believe they will be very successful at it.”
Looking to add to the team are newcomers Troy Brink, Christian Suarez, Nicholas Dilworth, Michael Cheezen, Nolan Flint and Ryan Scherer.
“The boys know that in the league, Liberty Center is the team to beat. Archbold and Bryan will also be very good,” said Allen on his outlook of the NWOAL. “I think that our boys should be able to run with those teams at the league meet. The boys are also very focused on achieving big things in the postseason races.”
Both of the Indians’ teams are at Hilltop today to begin the season. Racing starts at 4:30 p.m.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010