Some top GNC runners expected to propel Hatchet co-ed cross country this season
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports, Nature Editor
The Tomahawk co-ed cross country team got in some important team bonding while logging some solid early season miles while taking part in the 25th annual CC Camp held at Bond Falls, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last week.
The Hatchets celebrated 25 years with an alumni camp. Featured speakers included Scott Steuernagel (’87 alum) – multi-time NCAA UW-Oshkosh All-American – and Talyn Jones ’15, Stephanie Welke ’13, and Justin Lund ’00 all gave presentations to the athletes at camp.
This coming weekend the Hatchets will be able to put the advice given into practice as they host the annual Alumni Scrimmage at Bradley Park on Saturday, Aug. 24 starting at 10 a.m. All Hatchet alumni are invited to take part.
This year the Lady Hatchets will be led by returning letter winner seniors Haley Voermans-Dean, Meagan Berg and Gillian Buckwalter. They will get a lot of varsity-level support from underclass letter winners Macey Mann (So.), Emily Lacina (So.) and Kate Reilly (So.). The other varsity spots will be battled over with several girls in the mix vying for those spots. Most likely candidates are Autumn Peissig (Jr.-varsity as a freshman, but injured most of last season), Tiana Gerstenberger (Jr.-gained valuable experience in her first year out last year), and Geena Wanta (So.-shown solid improvement and growth as a runner in the past year).
“We have a nice nucleus of five freshman runners who have been working hard in the preseason and anyone of them has the potential to push for a varsity level spot. Our overall girls’ numbers are improving this year and although it was tricky to piece together a JV squad at times last year, we should have no problem this year,” stated Hatchet head coach John Zuelsdorf. “Staying healthy will still be a key focus for us again this season (as it has been the past two years). With improved numbers and a solid nucleus returning of varsity experience, we will look to reload around our two State Qualifiers from last year, three-time All-Conference 1st team athlete Haley Voermans-Dean and Macey Mann. Haley is the second fastest 5K runner in school history with her P.R. of 19:56 and Macey, as only a freshman, was able to post a solid time of 21:09 at the State Meet in Rapids for her P.R.”
Meagan Berg, Emily Lacina (All-Conference as a freshman) and Kate Reilly are all coming off a solid spring season on the track and will be keys in the Lady Hatchets’ improvement process from a year ago.
The Lady Hatchets are expected to have a deep team this season, which is something the boys’ team is typically known for and will once again be this season. The varsity boys will be led to the finish tape by All-Conference athletes Drew Bolder (Jr.) and Noah Buckwalter (Jr.).
“Noah really came on as the season progressed last year and Drew has improved his strength and leg speed, which will give us a nice 1-2 punch. Senior letter winners Keaton Jed, Matt Johnson, and junior letter winners Garron Albrent, Trey Baalke, Alex Norman and Hunter VanRyen (injured most of last season, but pushing for a varsity spot as a frosh.) and Arden Ziert (So. Letter winner) will be key factors in determining our level of success this season,” Coach Z stated. “Conference champion Medford is once again absent from our Sectional and although a young Lakeland team topped us at the Sectional meet last year our boys are excited about this season.”
Coach Z said some runners to watch this season include freshman newcomers Neenah Fuste, Morgan Hansmann, Serena Reinke, Greta Tjugum, and Leslie Vance have all competed in the middle-level program and as they adapt to racing the 5K distance they potentially will challenge for varsity level positions. Additionally, many of them were involved in the preseason summer program and are handling the training mileage changes very well. They are quickly figuring things out and could play a role on the varsity level.
K. Jed, A. Norman and T. Baalke had solid track seasons and with improved leg speed will look to fill the void of graduating scoring runners Evan Ploeckelman and Shawn Dirkx. Garron Albrent and Arden Ziert also came on strong as the season progressed last year. Jack Lacina has had a nice preseason and those six are some of our key runners to watch this season. Freshman Jacob Towle is the top incoming runner from our middle level program and will improve as he gets mileage under his belt.
As far as expectations, Coach Z said the work ethic of the team has been awesome since last year. The girls worked on their leg speed this spring and they logged some solid miles this summer, with many over 150 miles and two above 200 miles, which will help them maintain their speed and pace during the 5K.
And D. Bolder has been real focused since last fall and with some fast times on the track this spring and logging 400+ miles this summer and attending a high altitude camp and the Badger camp in late July he will be a front runner all year. Another key to the boys’ team success will be getting other scoring runners consistently under the 18:30 5K barrier and by the end of the season sub-18. They have the potential as their summer mileage is way up and their leg-speed is improved. Much like the girls, we need to stay healthy and stay on task with our training plan all season to reach our goals, the coach added.
Captains of the Lady Hatchets this season are H. Voermans-Dean, M. Berg, and G. Buckwalter. The boys’ team captains include K. Jed, M. Johnson, R. Zedler and others to be decided will lead the boys.
Following this Saturday’s Alumni Scrimmage, the Hatchets will kick the regular season into gear as they travel to Ashland Thursday, Aug. 29 for an invite that begins at 10:30 a.m.