2012: Boys eighth, girls eighth in Section 8AA
By PATRICK SLACK
One grew up with an All-American runner father, who also happened to be the cross country coach.
The other didn’t start running until his sophomore season.
However, the vastly different starts of seniors Mathew Massmann, son of boys head coach Jeff Massmann, and Sebastian Sowada have merged into a premier distance tandem for the Flyers, one that has its sights on the state meet.
Last fall, in the first season after state entrant Preston Zimny graduated, Massmann filled the vacancy at the front of the Little Falls cross country pack.
By the time track rolled around, the pair were running side-by-side, pushing each other to better and better times in practices and races.
“When Preston was here, he was a great runner but I was a little young at the time so there was really no one in my area,” Massmann said. “Then Sebastian came over and we just found each other as training partners right away and stuff just started clicking.
“Sebastian’s usually the guy where he likes to get to the grind right away and pick the pace up,” he said. “I’m more of the guy that likes to start out slow and just kind of ease into it, so I think we just kind of complement each other.”
“One of us could be having a bad day and we might be going not the pace we were hoping for, but we can look at the other one and nod and he’ll start picking up the pace and we’ll feed off each other,” Sowada said.
“It’s definitely a lot more fun,” he said. “We can communicate with each other and just talk about life or on those hard runs just feed off each other, pick the pace up and go a lot faster than we would if we were just by ourselves.”
Massmann and Sowada each placed in the top eight in both the 1,600 and 3,200 in last spring’s Section 8AA track meet, but are now looking to take the final step and move on to state.
“We would love to take a team to state and I think this is the year we can do it,” Massmann said.
“In track, I think it left a little salt in our mouth leaving that section race,” he said. “We made the podium, but I think we both were looking to do a little more damage up front. We’d like to have a shot with 200 yards left to go after it and try to win the section meet.”
The Flyers will have a deep group of returners to work with to go after that goal, as seniors Cameron Smith and Daniel Mushel and freshman Tyler Moore also return from last year’s section roster, with sophomore Jacob Massmann returning with varsity experience as well.
Seniors on this year’s team include Sowada, Mathew Massmann, Smith, Mushel, Jacob Freitag, John Gottwalt, Adam Fellbaum and Alex Fellbaum.
LF girls vying for GRC repeat
The Flyers girls only lost two runners to graduation a year ago, but they were big losses, as All-Granite Ridge Conference (GRC) finishers Mattia Hendrickson and Chelsea Rutz.
However, reigning GRC champion Little Falls brings back four other runners who placed in the top 14 in last year’s conference meet, setting the team up in prime position for a run at a repeat title.
“We have a good core group back with varsity experience,” girls head coach Jacki Devine said. “It helps that several girls have put in more miles than ever this summer.”
Leading the group of returners with varsity experience are senior Laura Moe, junior Heidi Moe, sophomore Amelia Kresha, freshman Kendal Hendrickson and eighth-grader Anna McNamara.
Vying to round out the lineup will be senior Vanessa Meschke, sophomore Linzee Gerads and freshman Ashley Hastings, with some eighth-graders also likely to see varsity action, Devine said.
“I expect we will do very well at the conference meet and put together another first-place team,” Devine said. “The section meet is tougher competition, but our goal is to move up into the top four spots.”
Little Falls opens the season at Milaca, Monday.