Mid-State title highlights season
Having more bullets to work with for the 2010 season, the Detroit Lakes girls' cross-country squad had one of most successful seasons as a team in quite sometime.
But there is plenty of room left before the Lakers hit the ceiling.
"This is the deepest team we've ever had," said DL head coach Jon Freeman. "But we saw that lack of consistency, which is due to their lack of maturity and experience."
The Lakers entered the season young, with their top three runners in grades eight, nine and 10, respectively. DL had a couple of different frontrunners during meets, including eighth grader Abby Ullyott, who was the first Laker across the finish line in the majority of meets.
DL captured its first Mid-State Conference crown in quite sometime, as well, marking the peak of the season as a team.
But with the Lakers being so young, confidence was a hard thing to come by, despite all the team success.
"The big question mark through the season was the disbelief these kids had in themselves," Freeman said. "They believed they didn't belong with the top runners in the section or they were not quite good enough.
"But you don't have the season we had by accident."
Winning the conference championship was a good start towards building that confidence, but there are plenty of levels to advance to after the Mid-State championship.
"Winning the conference was a great stepping stone and we can move on from there," Freeman added. "We do have the guns to win more."
The Lakers' depth was a key to the team's success, with freshman Annie Holzgrove and sophomore Kiki Schumacher both being consistently in the top three finishers on the DL team.
Senior Brita Johnson was a solid contributor, while up and comers freshman Mackenzie Foltz, eighth grader Lindsey Heinicki and sophomore Veronica Haverkamp each gained varsity experience.
There will be plenty of competition next year for varsity spots as well, as a host of returners are back in freshmen Rachel Wentz, Berit Ramstad-Skoyles, sophomore Dana Langworthy and juniors Celeste Koppe and McKenzie Oistad are back to make DL a deep team again.
Others who will be returning after running on the talented JV team -- as well as some varsity -- include freshmen Lauren Lies, Jena Jasken, Courtney Flynn and Emily Zok.
The Lakers do lose two seniors in Johnson and Shannon Goetz, who both have been longtime performers -- on and off the course -- for multiple seasons.
"We do have six of our top seven runners back, along with some younger talent off of junior varsity coming up," Freeman said. "The majority of the runners were finishing in the 16-minute range and that's where I want them to start next season.
"We have a bright future ahead of us."
Freeman noted the appreciation he has for the community and area businesses for supporting the team, while seeing a strong future, but in a strong section.
In last week's Class 2A state cross-country meet, 10 of the top 21 finishers were from Section 8-2A, DL's section. Of those 10, only two were seniors.
But he expects his Lakers to be in the mix come next year's Section 8-2A meet.
"The section is going to be incredible, again," Freeman said. "But I plan on us being a part of those incredibles."