Lauren Schutter | sports editor
The cross country team opened up its season Saturday, running on a rather rainy morning in Silver Lake.
For the girls team, freshman Payton Wurtz had a great opening run, taking 2nd place in her first high school meet with a time of 20:59. Junior Rebekah Stuhlsatz took 6th at 22:54. These two are looking to be a dynamic running duo — Stuhlsatz having state experience her freshman and sophomore years of high school already, placing 11th in 2019 and 14th in 2020. “I want to go to state this year, but I really want the whole team to go with me. I also want to crack the top-10 at state this year,” Stuhlsatz said.
Wurtz is also bringing experience, from junior high, where she set a new school record in the 1600 last spring. “I use it as a confidence booster. I keep it in the back of my mind. If I’m nervous it helps me remember what I’m capable of. I’m hoping to go after the high school records during the next four years,” Wurtz said.
The girls finished second as a team Saturday, and they have high hopes as a squad. “This was a good start to the season,” coach Roger Alderman said. “ The course was a little wet but conditions were nice for the first meet of the year. Our returning runners averaged nearly 3 minutes better than their times from the same meet last year.”
On the boys’ side of things, the team is working with lack of experience. Though the team finished 8th at Silver Lake, coach Alderman sees this as an opportunity to rise. “We’ve had a complete turnover of varsity runners over the past two years,” Alderman said. “If we work to get better each day, we should see lots of progress by the end of the season.”
Stuhlsatz said the team is bonding well, even with so many new runners. “We’re close. It’s like it’s more than just a team. We’re all friends and we care about each other. We hype each other up.”
The team also pushed hard during summer workouts, which was a change from individual workouts from previous seasons. “I ran a lot more during the summer than previous years, because I knew what it takes to get prepared. I’ve learned how to run a race better, to avoid slowing down in the middle of the race, so that experience should help me improve,” Stuhlsatz said.