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New old faces on PHS cross country team this fall

Prescott's Andrew Taylor and Maike Harris try to stay in front of a Somerset runner at the X-Treme Meet. Photo by Bob Burrows.1 / 2
Prescott's Emmie Carpenter makes here way through the water at the River Falls X-Treme meet. Photo by Bob Burrows.2 / 2

PRESCOTT - Something old is something new again with Prescott High School's cross country team this fall.

Steve Peterson is the new head coach, replacing Dave Vortherms who is now the PHS principal. But Peterson had been head coach for six seasons prior to Vortherms's recent tenure (and Vortherms had been the head coach before Peterson) and the hand he's been dealt has plenty of new faces as well, but not so old when it comes to cross country experience.

"Half of our roster had never run a cross country race before until the River Falls meet," Peterson said. "And that particular meet (the River Falls X-Treme), given how hot the weather was, was a difficult environment to run in, especially if it was your very first meet. But we pulled through okay and it has us confident that as time goes along and experience is gained we'll have a solid team by the end of the season."

For a first meet against larger schools the Cardinals did okay as Peterson said. The boys finfished ninth out of 14 schools and the girls were 10th. Neither team is completely devoid of experienced runners. The girls squad returns five letter winners from last sseason's team which placed fourth in the Middle Border Conference meet. They are seniors Elly Boles and Alicia Carlson, juniors Amanda Murphy, Annika Carlson and Emmie Carpenter. Returning letter winners on the boys' team, which placed seventh in the conference meet, are juniors Jack Lassen, and Caelan Miller and sophomores Dan Mutschler and Jesse Sommer.

But what Prescott graduated will defintely have an impact. Gone are state meet runners and conference champions Cole Hauenstein and Victoria Simones. Nick Strandine also graduated for the boys and another letter winner, Troy Urman, decided to play football this fall. 

"Obviously when you lose runners like Cole and Victoria you lose a lot of leadership and talent," Peterson said. "But this new season is an opportunity for us as well to put a focus on our teams as a whole and to use the team concept to push our runners to get better because there's some good potential talent among them."

Both Murphy and Carpenter were second team All-MBC last fall and Peterson said so far Murphy has been running very well in practice. Both Murphy and Annika Carlson were part of the Cards' 3200-meter relay team which qualified for the state meet last spring. Another letter winner putting in good practices times so far has been Miller.

"It's going to take a couple of meets to see where everyone is at. We still need to find our pace," Peterson said. "One thing we've been working on with emphasis in practice has been our speed. We've done a lot of speed work to improve our starts and we want our runners to think fast so they can run faster to go with their endurance."

Two newcomers who have been impressive so far since practice began has been freshman Alysse Lewis for the girls and sophomore William Nitz for the boys. Having all these news faces to go with the old ones has Peterson and his coaching staff, which also includes middle school coach Deb Carlson and assistant high school coach Jenna Kadlec, exicted for the possibilities.

"It's all a big wild card because if we can develop a consistent top five group for the girls' team and if the big sophomore class we have on the boys side develops fast, then we can exceed our own expectations and goals," Peterson said. "That's what has us excited because it's a good group to work with and we really don't know what to expect. We can't wait to let the team find out what they can be."

Prescott runs today in the St. Croix Central Invitational this afteroon at 4:30 p.m.