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Mounder runners will combine youth with experience in 2014

ELK MOUND — With a total of 35 runners reporting for practice including 15 freshmen, the Elk Mound cross country teams will see some strong competition both internally and externally this season, according to head coach Jeremiah Fredrickson.

The boys must try to replace Ben Holzwarth, the 2013 Dunn-St. Croix Conference champion, school record holder and two time state qualifier, as well as Justin Fedie, Drew Sternecker and Josh Hall. They return three letter winners in senior Caleb Kruger, a Second Team All Conference runner who just missed qualifying for state last year, senior Lucas Winter and junior Hayden Kohls. Several incoming freshmen including Jared Strand, Jake Johnson and Ryan Mohr may be pushing some upper classmen for varsity spots this year, according to Fredrickson.

Rounding out the boys’ team are seniors Gabe LaRock and Tyler Svihovec, juniors Jonah Bauer, Grant Kjellberg, Nate Kruger, Aaron Maves, and Erik Strand, sophomore Matt McLaughlin and freshmen Jonas Kohls, Nate Lind, Bowdrie Noller, Nate Schreiber and William Stone.

The girls lose Jamie Solem, Samantha Jain and Danae Sternecker through graduation, but return their top two varsity runners, a pair of sophomores, Elizabeth Fasbender, a Second Team All Conference runner as a freshman, and Kami King. Juniors Elayna Gutsch, Nevada LaPoint and Corrine Zimmer will compete for a varsity spot as well as sophomores Kaitlyn Baier and Kassie Jain. Seven freshmen fill out the team including Hannah Carlson, Hannah Cedarblade, Ivy Clickner, O’Ryhann Hay, Maddie Jenson, Mattea Linberg and Lexi Schindler.

“With a large number of kids out this year, we have a lot of depth and should have some good competition within our team, not to mention in the conference which is always tough,” Fredrickson said. ‘It is our fifth year of having a team and we hope to keep building as a team and individually. Both of our teams have a solid core of runners back and our young kids I believe will be one of our strengths.”

The boys finished fourth in the conference last year while the girls were sixth and Fredrickson thinks both teams can improve on that this season.

“It’s our goal for both teams to compete for the conference title this year,” he said. “That will be tough with the likes of Colfax being a perennial power but we think with our mix of athletes, we can be in the race by the end of the season. We want to improve as individuals which will lead to the team doing better, grow and develop healthy life skills and a strong work ethic, and have fun,” he added.

Assisted by Sarah Hoover, the Mounders will start competition at Boyceville Aug. 28. NOTE: THE TIME FOR THE MEET HAS BEEN CHANGED TO 11:00.