The Brainerd Warriors are young, but have miles of experience.
Senior Allison Kosobud leads a squad of young veterans into the 2012 campaign. And there is hope that even with a stacked Section 8-2A field, this year’s squad can improve on last year’s fifth-place section finish.
“We’re in arguably the toughest section in the state,” said Warrior head coach Dave Herath. “We have the defending state champions (Monticello), who finished ninth in the national cross country meet. They have all but two runners returning. Four of the first five finishers at last year’s state meet were from our section and only one has graduated.
“We like to set our goals high and we always want to get back to state and that’s where the girls’ goals are at. As a team, that’s their goal. We can only take care of ourselves so we had to train harder and run smarter.”
And that’s what this year’s squad has done. They trained hard all summer in preparation for this season, a season that has high hopes because of six returning varsity runners.
Leading the pack will be Kosobud, who advanced to state last year in Nordic skiing and in the 800-meter run during track and field season.
“Allison had a very nice junior year, but it wasn’t up to her expectations,” said Herath. “She did have a nice track season. She is coming in in very good shape. She had a good summer of training and I expect her to get back to state like she did as a sophomore.”
Kosobud was second on the team in the section meet and finished 20th overall. Leading the team was Sarah Yeh, but the junior has battled illness this summer and will attempt to work her way back into form by the time sections roll around. Yeh finished 14th at last year’s section meet.
One runner who did train hard was junior Maria West. She finished 26th in last year’s state meet, but Herath believes she’ll be in the battle to be the No. 1 runner on the team.
“She has been the one I have been most impressed with,” Herath added. “She is in great shape. She had a good sophomore year. She’s a true three-sport athlete because of the diversity of her sports. (West plays basketball and softball). But during the spring, she would run at night. She has looked really nice so far.”
Junior Abby Selisker and sophomore Lydia Herath are also back. Selisker finished 54th at last year’s section meet, Herath was 45th.
“Lydia really worked on her strength this summer,” Herath said of his daughter. “She is much stronger than she was the first year at this time. With Abby it’s the same thing. She put in a really nice summer mileage-wise. She is very strong.”
Senior Sarah Fairbanks rounds out the returners. Fairbanks was 47th in the section meet. Her priorities are concentrated on entering the Navel Academy but Herath hopes once her schedule loosens up, she’ll be able to focus on running.
“She is just a wonderful kid, but she has had a lot on her plate since last spring,” said Herath. “There’s no doubt she’s a varsity hopeful for sure, but she’s busy doing other things right now.”
Sara Whiteman enjoyed a good track and field season last spring and Herath is hoping that carries over into the fall cross country season. She’s one of the top contenders to fill the spot vacated by the graduated Michaela Quast.
“Our freshmen are always great to have because you never know what you’re going to get,” said Herath. “They are looking very good. It’s fun to see what they can do.”
Seniors: Sarah Fairbanks, Allison Kosobud, Anja Smith
Juniors: Katie Montgomery, Jenny Muesing, Abby Selisker, Maria West, Sarah Yeh
Sophomores: Kaylin Cherne, Gabrielle Haire, Lydia Herath, Ariana Huber, Cassidy Pelkey, Sara Whiteman
Freshmen: Emma Anderson, Sophie Carlson, Carina Figliuzzi