EPC team wants to run as whole team this season
With a large turnout in its second year of operation, coaches Kris Flesberg and Tracy Gilles of the Elmwood/Plum City prep cross country cooperative were confident they could go the whole season competing as scoring team in their meets this season.
For most of the Wolves' meets this season this can still be true, especially on the boys' side. But those hopes were dashed for the girls at the St. Croix Central Invitational Thursday. Illness kept three girls runners out of the race and with two runners having left the team since the start of the season, EPC's margin for competing is slim to none.
"When we started a few weeks ago being able to be team competitive is what we were most looking forward to and it's still true," Flesberg said. "It's just unfortunate we had a situation with the girls where we are right at seven runners and something like injuries or illness puts us right on the edge. Right now as far as ankles and legs we're still very healthy and we have to stay that way to keep our team hopes going."
If they're able to do so, EPC could have some very competitive teams in what is shaping up to be a strong Dunn-St. Croix Conference. While the girls' side lost All D-SC runner McKayla Brunner to graduation they return four letter winners including seniors Heidi Webb, Amber Osteen and Destinee Barrows along with sophomore Elizabeth Feuker, who was honorable mention All D-SC last season as a freshman.
The boys team graduated one senior in James Bauer. Returning are honorable mention all conference runners juniors Noah Wells and Peter Fenter along with fellow junior Andrew Gilles, senior Dylan Shields and sophomores Tyce Todd and Linkon Foley.
Barring anything bad EPC's boys should be set as a team all season and perhaps could field a full JV squad too as it adds foreign exchange student runners from Plum City. Gilles and Wells were in good form in the SCC meet as they both finished in the top 10. Junior newcomer Tristan Bagley was on the EPC state qualifying 3200-meter relay team in track and there are several others out for the sport for the first time.
"Andrew and Noah have been doing great since the start of the season and so have Libby and Heidi," Flesberg said.
While the EPC boys had to wait a week to get going the girls put in a race in at the Boyceville Varsity Invitational the week before and showed their potential when healthy. They were especially helped by new runners like freshmen Abby Larson, Morgan Rupakus and Josie Tiffany.
"We had some very good middle school runners last year and they'rve made a good jump to the varsity level so far" Gilles said. "With the depth we have, we want our kids to be motivated to be scoring runners."
Besides team competition EPC also has another goal in mind and that is to get one of its runners to state, either as a team or individually. They came close last season with Brunner and Tim Talford before her.
"We have the runners who can make it and have our fingers crossed because it would mean so much for our program to put a runner at state for the first time." Gilles said.