Enthusiasm strong on MFL MarMac cross country team

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Members of the 2016 MFL MarMac cross country team include (front, left to right) assistant coach Eric Koenig, Allison Corlett, Marissa Lechtenberg, Laycee Roys, head coach Eliza Philpott; (back) Kolten Matthews, Coltin Ball, Ellie Kinley, Reagan Butikofer, Cassidy Penrod, Hannah Schutte, Keri Picha, Jesse Breuer and Kaleb Krueger. Not pictured is Keagen Smerud. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Getting a taste of last year’s state cross country meet through state qualifier Hannah Schutte, who returns as a sophomore this season, has sparked a lot of enthusiasm in the 2016 MFL MarMac cross country team, said fourth-year head coach Eliza Philpott. She is joined by assistant coach Eric Koenig, now in his second season.

Philpott and Koenig said this enthusiasm is one of the team’s strengths, and has translated into good, quality practices over the first couple weeks of the season.

“The kids come ready and willing for practice knowing it’s going to be tough, and that makes for an exciting environment,” they explained.

The two coaches said the athletes came to the first day of practice in better condition this year, which has allowed them to focus on strength and mechanics.

“Having the ability to improve in these two areas so early on in the season is going to translate into big things as we move deeper into the season,” they noted.

With strong senior leadership, they look for that dedication to improvement to endure throughout the season.

“The three senior girls (Allison Corlett, Laycee Roys and Melissa Lechtenberg) independently have stepped into leadership roles, which has not gone unnoticed by the coaches,” Philpott and Koenig shared. “Those three, combined with our returning state qualifier, Hannah Schutte, and other underclassmen, have a good shot at a state qualifying team. We’ve got two returning runners on the guys’ side, including Coltin Ball and Kolten Matthews, and three newcomers who are looking very good so far.”

Philpott and Koening said the team is excited to get the first meet (held Thursday, Sept. 1, at Tri-City Golf Course) under their belts, so they can address any areas of concern. 

“After that, we look forward to being competitive in all the meets we participate in, but there is already excitement building for the district meet, as we expect to make a strong showing,” they said. “I think, as coaches, we are excited to get some meets in so the athletes can see the results of all the hard work they’ve put in so far.”

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