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By Missy Klatt, Sports Correspondent
GLENWOOD CITY — With over 50 kids out for cross country, including 28 at the high school level, Hilltoppers’ head coach Matthew Schutz is excited for the new corss country season.
To have full teams for all levels of competition is something that not all small schools achieve.
Having recent successful teams helps to grow the program. Last year, the girls’ team earned their third consecutive sectional title and fourth in five years. They have also qualified for state the last five seasons.
The Lady Toppers also sported five all-conference runners last year. Bella Simmons and Izzy Williams made it to the first team while Emily Bethell, Kendall Schutz and Jabin Hojem took home second team honors.
There was only one senior last year who was not one of the top seven runners. The girls did however lose exchange student Azra Ibrimagic who was consistently the 5th or 6th runner for the girls’ team.
“We are lucky to have the majority of our team (both boys and girls) back with more experience and leadership than last year,” commentsed Schutz.
Returning varsity runners from last season are Bella Simmons, Izzy Williams, Emily Bethell, Kendall Schutz, Gabby Moede and Samantha Peterson for the girls. The boys return Elijah Simmons, Jabin Hojem, Austin Nelson, Brendan Booth and Henry Wallin.
The teams also have some promising newcomers this year.
Kinzie Strong, who had success running distance relays in track, is out for cross country for the first time. While Tabby Nadeau returns to the sport, having success in middle school, she’ll need to adjust to running at the high school level.
For the boys, JJ Williams and Elek Anderson had great success as middle school runners. JJ finished first in all but one of his races last season and Elek was always in the top ten. Schutz states that they have been putting miles in over the summer and they will sure help strengthen the boys’ team this season.
Brady McCarthy also returns to the sport after playing football his freshman year. He is going to do both sports this year. “He’s very much a competitor”, notes Schutz.
Despite having the numbers this year, Schutz feels the boys don’t have a lot of depth. They have six or seven good runners and then there is a big gap in performance with the rest of the runners.
For the girls, they will once again be striving for the conference and sectional championships.
The boys have lofty goals as well as they try and put their mark on the Dunn-St. Croix conference and sectionals too.
Schutz forecasts, “our freshman should continue to learn and grow as they compete against men.” He continues, “Our returners will need to run at new levels compared to last season to have the success they are striving for.”
Schutz thinks that Glenwood, Durand and Colfax will be fighting it out for conference champs on the girls’ side and Glenwood, Colfax, McDonell Central and Cameron at the sectionals.
For the boys, he states that Elk Mound is the team to beat in the conference. At sectionals, he sees McDonell Central and Clear Lake as the top teams.
Schutz who has been coaching for 13 years, ten as the head coach will be assisted by Angela Williams (4th year) and Sarah Nichols. Will Rosenow also returns for his third season as a volunteer coach.
2019 Boy’s Roster:
Seniors: Elijah Simmons, Jabin Hojem, Alex Peralta.
Junior: Henry Wallin
Sophomores: Brady McCarthy, Brendan Booth, John Hager, Austin Nelson, Henry Draxler.
Freshmen: JJ Williams, Owen Bauman, Elek Anderson, Cody Hansen, Anthony Nelson.
2019 Girl’s Roster:
Seniors: Emily Bethell, Izzy Williams.
Juniors: Gabby Moede, Alex Swanepoel, Annika Bauman, Kinzie Strong, Tabby Nadeau, Natasha DeSmith.
Sophomores: Kendall Schutz, Ella Knops, Payten Knops, Samantha Peterson, Bella Simmons.
Freshmen: Whittnie Wittmer.