The cross country season is filled with running, running and running. Lakeland Union High School has a few Thunderbirds who know exactly how to do just that.
Coach Dan Claussen is back for his second season at the helm. What he brings with him is a variety of runners for both the boys and the girls side.
The boys are led by captains Jake Van Hefty and Tyler Teichmiller. They will lead the charge for a boys team that finished fifth last season in the GNC.
Other boys runners that will make an impact are Victor Masayesva and Scott Balas. Masayesva was second team all-conference with a time of 18:01.7.
“The boys are a lot better than they were last year,” Claussen explained. “They’re going to be really good and they all had a great summer of running.”
The boys will have to replace graduated senior Tony Holmes. He was second team all-conference as well with a time of 18:02.0.
For the girls, the captains are Ashley Peterson and Aubrey Anderson. These girls are no strangers to lots of running. Peterson was first team all-conference last season and was the runner of the year.
Anderson was first team all-conference as well with a time of 19:10.2.
“Ashley is coming off a ridiculously great summer. We have to decide how to race her yet,” Claussen said. “Aubrey has done a phenomenal job of understanding her role on the team. She’s a great leader in practice and that’s awesome for the young kids.”
Their passion and experience for running will be a strength for the girls. They will not only will be runners to rely on, but leaders for the team.
“Both of them are elite girl runners in state and they lead by example,” Claussen said.
Other girls who will be looking to contribute are Kate Melms and Mia Case. Also track runners, they have plenty of experience to add to the team.
A couple of new runners who will look to contribute right away for both teams are Grace Kern, Casey Van Hefty and Sean Gardner.
The girls will be hunting for that elusive top spot. Finishing second a year ago, they will need everyone to be on board to beat defending champion Medford.
“The team that beat us was the state champs,” Claussen said. “We’re going to give them a run for their money, but it comes down to our third, fourth, fifth, sixth runners.”
The schedule is filled with plenty of competitive meets for the Thunderbirds. Some of the highlights of the season include a meet in Rhinelander, which only begins the fun.
“The week after we go down to Milwaukee and we run against two of the top teams in division two in the state,” Claussen said. “We try to find tough competition every time we race.”
With a bevy of experienced and elite runners, the Thunderbirds will soak up every moment of the 2019 campaign.
Their first meet is Thursday, Aug. 29 with an invitational in Rhinelander starting at 10 a.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]