JCC runners aim for improvement

JACKSON -- A strong youth movement is evident in the communities of Jackson and Lakefield, as the Huskies of Jackson County Central list eight freshmen on their 17-member boys' cross country roster.

JACKSON -- A strong youth movement is evident in the communities of Jackson and Lakefield, as the Huskies of Jackson County Central list eight freshmen on their 17-member boys' cross country roster.

JCC's five returning lettermen include one sophomore, three freshmen and one eighth-grader.

"Those guys ran close to each other in many meets last season," said third-year co-head coach Kerri Kocak. "We anticipate moving up, team-wise, this year."

A trio of freshmen -- Matt Kocak, Colin Fischer and Aaron Fields -- ran well for the JCC varsity last year and will be leaders for the Huskies this year, along with eighth-grader Marc Strom and sophomore Tyler Schultz.

"We have several others that will push to compete on the varsity," said Kocak, whose oldest son, Jordan, graduated after being JCC's top runner last fall. "It's going to be fun to see how these young runners improve as the season progresses."


Kocak said eighth-grader Justin Cook has been running well in practice, and freshman Sam Hendrickson is much improved. She is also looking forward to seeing what a pair of first-year cross country runners -- senior Sterling Bargfrede and junior Jake Johnson -- can do in competition.

"Practices have been going very well," concluded Kocak. "We could develop some nice depth with our boys' team and compete favorably in several meets."

Luverne Cardinals

After several highly-successful seasons, graduation has taken its toll on the Luverne boys' cross country program.

The Cardinals qualified, as a team, for the state meet in both 2003 and 2004, and had an individual -- Thomas Christiansen -- qualify in 2005.

But a total of 13 LHS cross country runners have received diplomas over the past two years, leaving the Cardinals with little varsity experience this year.

"We lost nearly our entire team from last year," said Cardinal head coach Bruce Gluf. "But we have a bunch of boys out for cross country for the first time -- and they are great kids. They are working hard and putting in the mileage. We should see some improvement as we go."

Senior Kirk Oldre -- a first-year runner -- was Luverne's top finisher in the opening meet Friday, while fellow first-year seniors Devin Richters and Chris Fitzer were next.


Brandon Schultz, a junior with some varsity experience, will be one of the Cardinal leaders, while freshman Davontae Maine also shows potential.

With junior Zach Sanderson and sophomore Matt Christensen also competing, the Cardinals will be able to field a full varsity team.

"We will get a team score," says Gluf. "It may be a little high at first, but we aim to improve by season's end."

Windom Eagles

Like Luverne, the Eagles were hard hit by graduation, losing all-conference runners Derek Jones and Pete Turner, as well as scoring runners John Hartberg and Bryce Fosheim.

Only Jesse LaMaack -- now a sophomore -- returns with any varsity experience for Windom.

Coming off a fine track season, LaMaack looks like a stronger runner this fall and may show some significant improvement.

"Jesse will be better," said Eagles' head coach Mike Kray. "But we lack experience after him and will likely not be able to field a full team most of the season."


Among the top candidates to run with LaMaack at the varsity level later in the season are junior Taylor Crow, eighth-grader John Curley and freshmen James Johnson and Kyle Haglund.

Pipestone Area

Eight boys will be competing this fall for the Arrows, coached by Jay Johnson.

Junior Bo Johnson and sophomore Kasey Klosterman both finished in the middle of the pack at last year's Section 3A meet, and will look to be improved this season. Senior Trent Andersen also returns with varsity experience, giving the Arrows a trio of capable performers.

"These guys are hard workers," said Johnson. "They are pretty tough runners."

While the other five Arrows lack experience, if they follow the work ethic of the top three, PA may become competitive as a team later in the season.

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