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Cross country: Experience returning to lead WCA

Both West Central Area cross country teams will have their cores back this season.

"We will return the nucleus of both the girls and the boys team," WCA head coach John Van Kempen said, "and (we) look forward to getting in some early-season meets to see where we are at in terms of conditioning and number of bodies that can compete at a varsity level."

After a 2017 campaign that ended with a state appearance, the Knights return their top-four racers for both the boys and girls teams.

Leading the charge for the girls will be senior captain Ella Van Kempen and junior captain Teagan Nelson. They'll be alongside sophomore Brynn Fernholz and Lexi Bright as headliners among the returning Knights.

For the boys, junior captains Jacob Bright and Jack Van Kempen will run alongside sophomore Kyle Schill and freshman Kade Runge to pace the team this year.

"We will need those kids leading us, both in terms of leadership and racing, but (we) will also need someone to step up and fill the 5 through 7 spots in meets and push the top four," coach Van Kempen said. "We are hoping some more kids come out to the team and strengthen our lineup."

In 2017, both teams finished as Section 6A runners-up. In hopes to improve this season with only about 25 runners out, Van Kempen said the goal will be getting race-ready while strengthening the team's connection before the first meet takes place.

"Our early-season workouts will consist of putting on some early-season long runs and building team chemistry," he said.

West Central Area kicks off the year at the Pomme de Terre Golf Club on Aug. 27 with a 5:30 p.m. start time.

2018 WCA CROSS COUNTRY

BOYS ROSTER

SENIORS - Hunter Mickelson, Tim Ruud

JUNIORS - Jacob Bright; Jack Van Kempen

SOPHOMORES - Kyle Schill

FRESHMEN - Kade Runge, Alex Salwasser, Reubens Swanson, Shad Swanson, Tyler Biss

GIRLS ROSTER

SENIOR - Ella Van Kempen

JUNIORS - Teagan Nelson, Tia Ahner

SOPHOMORES - Brynn Fernholz; Carly Steiner

FRESHMEN - Lexi Bright, Kennedy Porter

EIGHTH GRADE - Quinn Huntley

WEST CENTRAL AREA CROSS COUNTRY SCHEDULE

Aug. 27 at Pomme de Terre Golf Club, 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 at Breckenridge, 4 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Detroit Lakes, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 at New London-Spicer, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 at Melrose, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Fergus Falls, 4 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Perham, 4 p.m.

Oct. 9 Conference championship at Pelican Rapids, 4 p.m.

Oct. 15 at Headwaters Country Club, 4 p.m.

Oct. 25 Sections at New London-Spicer, 4 p.m.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Echo Press in Alexandria. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Alexandria area sports updates and jokes he thinks are funny.

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