DL girls cross-country started rebuilding in 2008
Bad luck in the form of injuries and sickness forced a young contingent of runners to finish the season for the Detroit Lakes girls' cross country team.
Injuries forced seniors out of the lineup by the end of the season, making DL head girls' coach Jon Freeman to insert seventh and eighth graders into the Section 8-2A meet lineup.
"I was pleased with how things turned out in the sections, but we lost a lot of our leaders (because of injury)," Freeman said. "It's been like that since I've taken over the team, we'd lose our seniors due to sickness like mono or they would suffer broken bones or get the flu.
"This year was no different."
DL had five seniors in Kayla Anderson, Tiffany Wirtz, Ashley Anderson, Molly Kuether and Liz Klyve.
Ashley Anderson was affected by sore shins, while Wirtz lost the end of the season due to a stress fracture in one of her legs.
But Freeman was happy how his seventh and eighth grade fill-ins performed at sections, which was some of the girls first or second varsity meet.
"Essentially, that's just how things were laid out for us," Freeman said. "Our future is good and it's a situation where if the coach doesn't blow it, these girls will be good."
It will be a building process for sure, but it's one which started be erected during the section meet.
Section runners for DL included Alethea St. John, Kiki Schumacher, Berit Skoyles, Dana Langworthy, Callie Johnson, junior Tess Jasken and Kayla Anderson.
Unfortunately, the senior curse hit Kayla Anderson, as well, in the form of a fall around a turn midway through the section race.
What the seniors did provide this year was valuable leadership skills, something which the very young team next year will have to work out.
"We are losing some incredible leaders," Freeman said of his seniors. "It's something you desperately need on a team. It's hard enough for young kids to be competitive, but it's tough for them to assume a leadership role, as well.
"It's a huge amount of pressure."
There will be a host of younger runners also leaping on the varsity stage next year, including Chelsea Melgaard, Alison Sauer, Celest Koppe and Molly Johnson.
"We'll have to lean on those kids to lead, they'll have to make it their team," Freeman included.
The DL coach mentioned junior high coaches Maggy Doll and Ryan Zunich as good inspirations for the seventh and eighth grade runners to perform well on the varsity level.
"They helped make it a seamless transition for those girls," Freeman said. "We won't see the full extent of what they have done the last couple of years, but it's very important."