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Young squad returns to run again

Team award recipients for boys’ cross country were (from left) Max Jerke - Tiger Award, Travis and Trent Ostby - Newcomer Award, Ryan Gray - Most Improved, and Aaron Goulet - MVP. Top: Ryan Gray (left) and Aaron Goulet (right) received All-WCC honors in boys’ cross country.1 / 4
Savannah Aanerud received All-West Central Conference honors in girls’ Cross Country.2 / 4
Team award recipients for girls’ cross country were (from left) Lauren Reimers - Newcomer Award, Becca Holland - Tiger Award, Kali Berlinger - Most Improved, and Savannah Aanerud -MVP.3 / 4
Ryan Gray (left) and Aaron Goulet (right) received All-West Central Conference honors in boys’ cross country.4 / 4

The Morris Area/ Chokio-Alberta cross country teams were young this year. With only two seniors between the two, next year’s teams should benefit from the experience gained by this season’s underclassmen.

Coach Dale Henrich was grateful to have enough runners to fill a girls’ varsity team as well as plenty of boys to often fill a junior varsity team.

“The more kids you have, the better opportunity you have to do well,” said Henrich.

Not only was the girls’ team young, six out of the eight members were new to the program, including the lone senior, Rebekah Aanerud.

Aanerud joined her sister, Savannah, on the  cross country team for the first time this season.

As an eighth grader Savannah Aanerud was usually the first Tiger to finish at cross country meets.

Becca Holland, the other returning member, was a steady runner for the Tigers.

“Becca did a very nice job of being a leader,” said coach Dale Henrich. “She went out and worked hard.”

While new to the team, Lauren Reimers was not new to cross country.

“Having Lauren come in with experience from another team brought a lot of experience to our team,” said Henrich.

Anna Grove brought experience from the track and field team to cross country this season.

“Her track season is going to be a lot better” because of her efforts on the cross country course.

Junior Kindra Cannon was new to cross country, but also had experience from track.

“She came out and ran well,” said Henrich.

Kali Berlinger joined cross country as an eighth grader this season and she ran very well.

“Her time just got consistantly better,” said Henrich.

Hailey Thielke was the eighth member of the team, but she was hurt and had some health issues during her first season.

The boys were led by senior Aaron Goulet, who made a return trip to the state meet after making it to the championship meet as a sophomore.

Henrich called the state meet the “icing on the cake” for Goulet’s career. Goulet ran his best time at the state meet and beat two section rivals in the process.

Ryan Gray was the No. 2 runner for the Tigers.

“He had a nice season and ran consistently.”

Max Jerke was typically the Tigers’ No. 3 runner.

“He’s a very consistent runner.”

Eric Staebler also brought some experience to the course, while Travis Ostby was new to running this season. The two of them were primarily the fourth and fifth-place runners for the Tigers.

Trent Ostby, also new to the program, was able to step in and help fill the seven-member varsity team.

“He ran in all of our varsity meets,” explained Henrich.

Bo Gullickson was injured all season and was not able to participate in a single meet. That left one spot available throughout most of the season, which rotated between several junior varsity runners.

As the season progressed, Dalton Luepke ran varsity for the final three meets.

“He stepped up as our leading JV runner,” explained Henrich. “He worked hard and wanted to get better.”