The Menomonie boys cross country team returns its core group from a year ago along with a large freshman class which makes the team the largest group 18th year head coach Adam Topper as had.
Those numbers should create plenty of competition throughout the program.
“A lot of young guys that haven’t done a lot of running before so we’re just kind of focusing on getting them going and learning the routine of daily running and learning how to be consistent,” Topper said. “Hopefully that will lead to success later on.”
Of the group that does return junior Patrick Schwartz will lead the pack. Schwartz was an all-conference honorable mention last season while also qualifying for the state meet.
“We have a good front runner and a solid, developing pack behind him,” Topper said. “How much that pack develops will determine how well we place in the championship meets at the end of the season.”
Junior Morgan Selchow was also an honorable mention by the Big Rivers Conference in 2018. Schwartz and Selchow will be joined by seniors Simon Fichter, Shawn Halverson and Daniel King along. Ethan Phillips, Joel Anderson and freshman Carter Davis and Connor Norby will also be in the mix on the varsity roster.
“I think when they see what they have together as a group and I think that pack we’re developing is making a big difference, there’s some good leadership in that group, that is going to push that group as a few of them push the rest will come along,” Topper said.
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Topper said the Mustangs are expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference. While Hudson and Eau Claire Memorial have suffered from departed seniors the two strong programs will continue to fight near the top of the conference. With the returning experience River Falls returns Topper looks at the Wildcats as the favorites this season.
The Mustangs have a scrimmage with Eau Claire Memorial on Thursday in Menomonie before opening the season Sept. 7 at an invitational hosted by Eau Claire North and Sept. 14 Menomonie hosts an invitational. The Big Rivers Conference championship meet is schedule for Oct. 19, hosted by Eau Claire Memorial.
Menomonie brings in a class of ten freshman and while many of them don’t have significant experience running Topper is intrigued to see what kind of improvement they can show over the duration of the season.
“It’s so hard to say with some of these young kids where they’re going to end up,” Topper said. “Obviously they’re not starting out running with the varsity group right now but by midseason who knows where some of those kids may be that are kind of off the back right now once they get three, four weeks of running in.”
Topper looks for the returning varsity group to challenge each other and push themselves to better results. He feels the same about the large group fighting to earn the chance to be among the group of varsity runners either later in the season or next year.
“It’s all just about improvement at this point and really that’s our focus all the time,” Topper said. “If we are getting better then where we place at the end of the season is going to take care of itself.”