Two years ago the Brainerd Warrior girls' cross country team stormed to a second-place finish in the Class 2A state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
After slipping to sixth place in Section 8, Class 2A last year the Warriors appear poised to make another run at a state trip. All but one member of last year's team returns, including four runners from the 2003 state second-place team.
Seniors Jenna Roberts, Katy Posterick and Carissa Schmidt, junior Kelsey Herwig, sophomore Cacie Bahr and freshmen Jenna Dean and Hannah McAllister return from last year.
"Jenna Dean and Hannah have really run this summer," Warriors coach Dave Herath said. "Jenna has run almost 400 miles. She outgrew some breathing (issues) and lower back things that hampered her last year.
"Hannah is running right with her. Hannah doesn't have quite the base that Jenna has but we're waiting for a meet to see how good they are. They sure look good in practice."
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Running at the Northland Arboretum to get in shape for their first meet Tuesday at Moorhead were Brainerd Warrior cross country runners Blake Alguire (left), Jenna Dean, Mike Reponen, Jake Iten, Carissa Schmidt, Shawn Steinkraus, Katy Posterick, Justin Anderson, Jenna Roberts, Justin Tyner and Titus Goodew.
In 2003, Dean was 33rd in the state, Jenna Roberts was 60th and Schmidt 79th. Senior AshLeigh Hakes, who did not run last fall, may return this season. She was 54th in the state two years ago.
Herath cautioned the team has a difficult row to hoe in its section. Sartell is ranked in the state; Moorhead, Becker and Crosby-Ironton have been state teams the last few years; and Fergus Falls is the defending section champion.
"We have a good group of girls and they could be fifth at the section meet," Herath said. "We're hoping that's not the case but it would be easy for that to happen.
"Our girls at the front will be strong. Those seniors have seen it all. They've almost been to the top, and would like to get back there. I think maturity will help down the road. They've grown from being pip-squeaks to veterans. They realize how special it is to get to state or to compete at a high level. They would like to do that again."
For the first time since 1995 the Warriors will not have a home meet. The Run For Your Melon meet has been canceled this year. Moorhead, site of the section meet this fall, is hosting a meet two days before Brainerd normally has its event.
"All the section teams that do the melon run are going to Moorhead, and we would like to see the course too so we (the melon run) will take a one-year leave," Herath said. "It would have been a small field.
"We've always considered Pierz a second home meet, Little Falls the same way. The deal with cross country is you find your slot. Everyone has a traditional corresponding date when their meet is. We tried to reschedule but it just didn't work out. For our seniors it certainly isn't a great way to end things but they understand."
Seniors: Jenna Roberts, Katy Posterick, Carissa Schmidt
Juniors: Kelsey Herwig
Sophomore: Cacie Bahr
Freshmen: Jenna Dean, Hannah McAllister
Senior: AshLeigh Hakes
Sophomores; Mary Petersen, Abby Goodew, Katherine Mueller
Freshmen: Mikala Doughty, Lauren Johnson
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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