Entering the 2012 cross country season, Jake Ebner thought he had something.
Ebner is in his first year as coach of the Lake Holcombe/Cornell cross country team, a co-op that, like similar track and baseball co-ops between the two schools last year, has been successful in their first year.
And what he has is a young, talented team that appears to have its best running ahead of it.
“It’s a great group of kids that, whatever we ask them to do they do it,” Ebner said. “They have a trust in the coaches that we’re leading them on the right path.”
The LH/C girls cross country team has been finishing near the top of the charts consistently, thanks to a young group of athletes with some upperclassmen sprinkled in.
Freshman Kayla Vavra dominated cross country and track in middle school, and has started out quickly in her first year of high school.
She finished fifth at the Bloomer invite and seventh at the Cameron invite.
But wherever Vavra has been finishing, her teammates have been close behind. Bianca Winter, Lexi Moussette and Danielle Gygi have been not that far behind, giving the C/LH girls plenty of power. Winter, the senior of the group, was a letterwinner for the Gilman/Cornell team last year and Ebner said has been about one minute faster this year compared to last season. Moussette and Gygi are runners in their first year at the varsity level.
On the boys side, Caleb White and Kenny Tomaszewski have been leading the way, and they also have the co-oping experience. Both were members of the C/LH boys track team that won the Lakeland championship last spring.
But forming a co-op for cross country has come together quickly. Both Lake Holcombe and Cornell’s cross country programs have each been around for less than a decade, so the history and will to stay independent isn’t necessarily there.
“It would be different if both schools had a cross country program for 20 years and you were bringing it together,” Ebner said.
In fact, between the combination of freshmen and new faces to the program, Ebner said that Tomaszewski is the only runner he has coached at Lake Holcombe last year.
“It’s nice to see a team that, even though you’re not going to get the immediate result from it (working hard), they realize that there’s a season-long plan in place and that’s what they keep working for and that’s nice to see out of such a young group,” Ebner said.
1) Stanley-Boyd football stays unbeaten
Riding the wave from a yet-to-be-scored-upon defense and an opportunistic offense, the Stanley-Boyd Orioles shut out the Fall Creek Crickets 30-0 last Friday, bringing their record to 4-0.
McDonell also got back to the .500 mark with a 29-9 win over Abbotsford and Chi-Hi fell at Eau Claire Memorial 34-13, among other games.
2) Chi-Hi, Stanley-Boyd, Lake Holcombe volleyball stay perfect in conference
Three county teams have made early claims to contention for conference titles in their respective leagues.
Chi-Hi, Stanley-Boyd and Lake Holcombe all notched conference wins last week and currently sit at the top of their respective conferences.
The Cardinals were counted on as a contender in the Big Rivers Conference to start the season, but both Stanley-Boyd and Lake Holcombe have younger teams that have been playing well early on. If they can keep growing, they’ll contend from here on out.
3) McDonell boys, Bloomer girls cross country performs well at Rice Lake
The Rice Lake invitational is one of the biggest cross country events in the area, so contending there is no easy feat. But the McDonell boys and Bloomer girls cross country teams did just that, finishing near the front.
The Macks were third among small school boys teams and Bloomer was second among small school girls teams. Both teams boast the talent and depth to run well into the cross country postseason and have a shot to make it to state.
1) Eau Claire North at Chi-Hi volleyball, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.
The Cardinals will need to beat the Huskies if they want to challenge for the Big Rivers title. Eau Claire North has been a thorn in the side of the Cardinals in recent years, so knocking off the Huskies is easier said than done.
2) Stanley-Boyd at Colby football, Friday, 7 p.m.
The Stanley-Boyd Orioles haven’t allowed a point on defense so far in 2012, but Friday will be their biggest test to date when they travel to Colby to face the Hornets. Stanley-Boyd has lost five games in a row to Colby dating back to a 34-7 Orioles win in 2007. Also in among the other area football action, Chi-Hi hosts River Falls and McDonell hits the road to play Greenwood/Granton.
3) Chi-Hi at Eau Claire North tennis for BRC tourney, Saturday, 10 a.m.
The tennis regular season is winding down, so all teams want to be their best at this time of the year. The Cardinals will be in action in one of their final tuneups for the postseason, which starts at the beginning of October.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
BOYS: Zach Turner, Stanley-Boyd
Turner, a freshman, scored a pair of touchdowns for the Orioles in their 30-0 shutout of Fall Creek. He scored the first touchdown of the game on a 5-yard scoring strike from Tyler Sorensen. He also capped the scoring in the game with a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown in third quarter. For the game, Turner hauled in six catches for 88 yards.
GIRLS: Sarah Wallace, Chi-Hi
Wallace, the No. 1 singles player for the Chi-Hi tennis team, took second place at a tournament in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday. She also picked up a convincing victory in Chi-Hi’s dual match with Menomonie on Thursday, beating Bre Barnett 6-1, 6-1.