By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY – 17 high school athletes make up the 2014 Hilltopper Cross Country team including one senior, six juniors, three sophomores and seven freshmen.
Sophomore Taylor Drinkman will be one to watch after she led the team as a freshman and was a state qualifier.
She along with Morgan Kadinger, Jack Kremer, Kaitlin Konder, Macie Rasmussen, Andrew Bauman and Corey Klatt are all returning runners.
Konder is a top five runner and the lone senior this season. She has has been running since sixth grade for the Hilltoppers.
This group placed fourth in the conference last year for the girls with the help of Jenny Lindquist who was 2nd team All-Conference, but is gone due to graduation.
New to the team are freshmen, Elizabeth Wink, MaKayla O’Brien, Emma Schooler, Ally Holmquist, Riley Schutz, Owen Wagner and Matthew Bauman.
Juniors Nathan Hill and Matt Wink as well as sophomore Tia Carlson are also newcomers this season.
“After only having five boys last season, it is great to see eight out this year,” said coach Matt Schutz. “We are enthusiastic with great attitudes and work ethic.”
The team is young however, which creates a bit of a weakness in the roster.
“It’s a small team with over 40 percent of them being freshman who have to adjust to the 5K,” explained Schutz. “We lost two varsity girl runners from last year because of injuries/surgeries with Jen Kopacz and Maya Petersen out. Both were top seven varsity last year and the four freshman and Tia Carlson, will need to replace those two plus Lindquist.”
The boys team looks to be more competitive in the conference. Schutz said that he expects to see each of them pushing each other in practice and meets.
Schutz is in his eight year overall with the cross country team and his fifth as head coach. He will be assisted again this year by Dave Steffen who has been involved for five seasons.
The Toppers have their first meet of the year this Thursday, August 28 in Boyceville starting at 11:00 a.m.
They will have a week of practice and then they will hit the course at the St. Croix Central High School on Thursday, September 4 at 4:00 p.m.