2012: Girls first in Section 6A, boys fourth
By PATRICK SLACK
Don’t get Mark Alcorn wrong, winning some races in August and September is nice.
But the Holdingford head cross country coach wants the Huskers to continue to make their mark when it counts most: late October.
A mere four years removed from not having a program at all, the Holdingford girls have captured back-to-back section championships, with the boys advancing multiple individual qualifiers to state.
For the Huskers girls, the quest for a third trip to state in a row figures to be more incremental than a year ago, when the Huskers rattled off three consecutive wins to start the season.
“On the girls side, we’re looking at this more like two years ago,” Alcorn said. “Last year everybody but one was healthy and had a good summer of running.
“Two years ago we didn’t win a meet until the conference meet,” he said. “We’ve got people relatively healthy, so we’ll gradually get into it instead of trying to look good in August and September. We want to look good in October.”
Holdingford will bring back all but two runners from last year’s state squad as it looks to do just that, including reigning Central Minnesota Conference (CMC) champion Jo Merten and runner-up Alli Ruprecht.
At the state meet, the Huskers finished 10th overall in Class A, led by the now-sophomore Ruprecht individually in 43rd place, with senior Abby Mokhtary, junior Emily Wolter and freshmen Angel Rick, Amanda Douvier and Merten also returning.
State duo leads Huskers boys
It only made sense that if one was going to join the girls team at state, the other would as well.
Juniors Andrew Zachman and Abe Skwira, coming off sixth and ninth place finishes in Section 6A, respectively, have reaped the benefits that have accompanied having one another to train with in practice, as well as pace off of in races.
While the two remain competitive, Alcorn “encourages” the pair to at least start off races running side-by-side.
“I force it on them,” Alcorn said. “Andrew’s pretty measured, does not go out too fast. Abe has a propensity to go out too fast and so particularly last fall, I would force Abe to run the first mile with Andrew.
“I’ve never seen any animosity,” he said. “They’re good teammates and they’re fortunate to have each other to run with. It works out well.”
Also coming back for the Huskers from last year’s fourth-place section lineup are seniors Nick Hiltner and Ben Douvier, junior Jacob Thell and sophomore Marcus Rick.
Holdingford opens the season at Maple Lake, Friday.