Another strong turnout of 35 runners has Wood River High School cross country coaches Joel Zellers and James Foster excited about the 2006 prep footrace season that begin last week in eastern Idaho.
The Wood River girls, third in last October's seven-school Great Basin Conference meet, return some of their main runners and the 20 boys are running and working hard.
Wood River kicked off its eight-meet regular-season schedule Friday, Aug. 25 at the Teton Challenge footrace staged at 8,000-foot elevation. The annual Wood River Invitational meet is Thursday, Sept. 7 up Trail Creek Road.
Fifth-year runner Tess Dahlgren, a senior, has run for the Wolverines since she was an eighth-grader. Captain for the girls' squad, Dahlgren "is running strong and as always with a smile," Zellers said.
Dahlgren placed 20th in the conference meet last fall on the Sun Valley Gun Club trails and 31st at the State 4A footrace at Eagle Island State Park, Boise.
Senior Ashley Rendahl, the team's co-captain, remains one of Wood River's fastest runners. She finished fifth in the 2005 conference footrace, only 1:11 back, and ended up 15th of 105 runners at Eagle Island.
Tricia McLaughlin, one of eight seniors on the 15-member girls' team, is a four-year runner and one of the steadiest, most consistent Wolverines. Other seniors on the 2006 squad include Aimee Loudenslager, Melissa Fischman, LeighAndra Roberts, Jordan Scanlon and Georgia Thies.
Junior Chelsea Herren is a newcomer to the sport of cross country but coach Zellers said she is one of the hardest workers he has coached. And junior Desiree Peters is a first-year runner with great promise.
Back from England, sophomore Rosie Gilchrist is full of energy and potential, Zellers said. She was 15th in the conference meet and 43rd at state. Other sophomores include Heidi Bergt, Julia Bowman and Maddie Cordovano, and Steff Carter and Lindsay Deffe are also practicing for the girls.
Results from Friday's Teton Challenge 5k: Tess Dahlgren 11th of 106 runners in 25:59, Ashley Rendahl 21st in 26:59, Rosie Gilchrist 25th in 27:16, Chelsea Herren 36th in 28:03, Tricia McLaughlin 61st in 31:20.
Coach Foster said the 2006 Wolverine boys cross country team is strong on leadership with nine of 20 runners preparing to graduate next spring.
Senior co-captains Joe Zeman and Bryce Moulton are leading the way followed by three other seniors—Cole Wells, Jack VanPaepeghem and Zach Thornton.
Junior Connor Caraluzzi is expected to contribute this season as well as sophomores Sam Colesworthy, Greg LeBlanc and Brad Dobie.
Coach Foster said that Colesworthy and Zeman have put on many trail miles this summer and it is going to pay off immediately in the first three races that are all above 5,000 feet with enough hills to make any set of lungs gasp for a little extra oxygen.
Foster added, "We also have a strong group of freshmen this year who will contribute."
Chase Caulkins ran with the varsity squad during the first meet Friday at Targhee Resort. Other ninth-graders Chris Clark, Joshua Berry, Khayman Stouffer and Trevor Tomez have all been practicing hard.
Other runners who will be contributing during the season include seniors Brandon Baertshi, John David Davidson, Clay Johnson and Zach Lowry along with sophs Dale McLaughlin and Cody Mortensen.
Foster summarized, "More runners have arrived with a base to begin the season than ever before and it has been evident in mile and interval times.
"A team trip to state is a perpetual season goal and I think the guys will be able to string together the times to accomplish it. As the season unfolds I think the real story will be the improved times each of the runners will see.
Results from Friday's Teton Challenge 5k: Joe Zeman 22nd of 123 runners in 21:50, Sam Colesworthy 29th in 22:23, Cole Wells 39th in 23:00, Chase Caulkins 56th in 23:44 and Brad Dobie 83rd in 25:33.