Expectations remain high for Central cross country

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Members of the Central cross country team include (front, left to right) Jaydin Dettman, Declan Finley, coach Mark Bauder, Brooke Tieden, Alexis Thiese, Layla Embretson, Carter Krugger, Vaughn Zittergruen, Gavin Holst, Michael White, volunteer McKenna Jaster, assistant coach Ashley Funk; (back) Collin Jaster, Caden Fette, Coral Rork, Bryce Heller, Ashlyn Scherf, Rebecca Suhr, Haley Frieden, Tate Berns, Eva Embretson, Delaney Scherf, Hannah Asche, Aspen Rork, Reese Berns and Mady Gregerson.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


There is comfort in consistency, and for Central’s cross country program, that begins with the Bauders—Mark and Martha—who look to take the Warriors back to state for the 27th time. They will attempt this feat using coach Mark Bauder’s motto to “just get a little bit better every day.” 


They will also attempt it with a stacked girls team that returns five of the seven top runners from last year. That includes state qualifiers Hannah Asche and Jaydin Dettman, along with Delaney Scherf, Reese Berns and Coral Rork. 


With this group, expectations are exceedingly high, as Bauder openly stated, “we’re expecting to be strong in our conference and district and hopefully make it to the state meet.” 


This is on top of the other returners who are expected to gain confidence and speed, including Ashlyn Scherf and Alexis Thiese, while integrating several newcomers to round out the roster of 14 runners. 


“The biggest challenge will be to keep getting better, to not be content to be close to that state goal. They’ve been so close the past few years that they will need to keep working hard to get faster and run with confidence the whole race,” Bauder said. 


For the boys squad, there is room to be hopeful, especially considering the team currently has seven runners. That means, unlike last season, the Warriors can compete for a team score. 


Another highlight is the return of all-conference runner Gavin Holst, the strength of the team. He will lead a group of inexperienced freshmen including Declan Finley, Bryce Heller and Michael White as they get used to the 5K distance. The new runners will also lean on returning senior Tate Berns, who is working on getting faster in his final season. 


“Due to so many runners new to the high school level of cross country, we’re hoping to gain experience each meet and eventually become competitive as a team,” Bauder said. 


When it comes to training, this year looks a little different with the bridge closure and finding places to run. That’s resulted in more hill work and longer distance days to get around the inconvenience. 


But the hard work has produced results and a steady stream of students who want to join the team. It’s this aspect of the sport that keeps the Bauders coming back to coach. 


“We like to coach kids who want to work hard and keep getting better. So that’s one of the main reasons we keep at it year after year. When seniors graduate, there always seems to be younger kids who want to keep getting better, so we want to stick with them. We try to keep a strong program going by providing the best chances for success for everyone who participates and works hard and wants to succeed,” Bauder said. 


The Central cross country season begins Aug. 23, at Edgewood-Colesburg. 

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