GHS runs with numbers

Five seniors and letter-winners will lead the Bluebird cross-country team this fall. Pictured are: front row (from left), Casey Wedel and Chris Johnston; back row, Jake Schrag, Anthony Esau and Janessa Wedel. Wedel is a two-time state qualifier.

The 2006 cross-country team at Goessel High School boasts 18 runners, four more than the team welcomed in 2005.

With Cameron Voth sidelined by injury, and lacking a senior on the boys’ team, junior Jake Schrag returns as the ranking runner for the boys.

Eight members of the 13-man squad have run with the Bluebirds before.

Sophomores Anthony Esau and Casey Wedel lettered, along with juniors Schrag and Chris Johnston.

Juniors Sam Lehrman, Niklas Burkhart, Travis Duerksen and Matt Johnston will be available for coach Greg Bontrager, as will sophomore Jonah Sullivan.

“My three big guys graduated last year…so we’ll see what happens,” Bontrager said.

Bontrager hopes three German exchange students will run superior times in support of the Bluebirds’ cause this fall.

Martin Koppitz will be “a great asset” to the boys’ team, while Lisa Rohner and Friederike Noltenius will, at the very least, give the Bluebirds sufficient numbers to have a girls’ team.

Senior Janessa Wedel headlines the group of five girls. Though she was the Bluebirds’ only female cross-country runner last season, Wedel made the most of her opportunity and qualified for state for the second consecutive year.

In 2004, Wedel finished 24th at state.

This fall, she will be joined by Noltenius, Rohner and two freshmen.

All of this leads Bontrager to give three reasons for Goessel to be excited about the coming season.

“I finally have a girls’ team for the first time in many years,” he said.

“Some of the runners from last year have come into the season in better shape and faster.

“We have more students participating in cross country than ever before.”

With the Bluebirds in position to compete as a team at every meet, Bontrager’s group is ready to run.

“As for predicting how we will fare during the post-season, time will tell,” he said.

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