WAYNE – Over the course in the month of September, members from the Wayne High cross country team will compete in all six of their regular season races before conference, districts and state take over October. Blue Devil cross country competitors have built their base mileage over the summer and will now look for speed to carry them through their Fall invites.
Guiding the Wayne High cross country program will be returning coaches of Courtney Maas in her 13th year with the team and starting her sixth season as the girls head coach while Terry Beair enters his sixth season as the boys head coach. Both are assisted by Kent Pulfer.
Coach Maas said the high school girls team recorded over 1,700 miles over the summer and all the runners had some fun during a Watermelon run while building team chemistry.
“Once they got there, we kind of split them up into teams so there were literally junior high through high schoolers running on each team,” said Maas. “I text the captain of each team a clue and they had to run to what the answer to that clue was, but they had to send me a selfie with everyone from their team in the selfie before I would send them on for the next clue.”
The Blue Devil girls cross country team will return state championship experience along with several incoming runners who’ll provide even more talent. The team plans on taking it one meet at a time while focusing on continuous improvement throughout the season.
Both coaches were pleased with the attendance during their open road sessions with between 20 – 30 runners.
Coach Beair added after the top boys runners dropped their time last year, they’ll need to bring it again this season.
“Just kind of a unique distance, it’s not really a distance, but it’s a distance because you’re in the mid, you’re not running a marathon,” Beair added. “They have to run fast and sustain it. So, they really have got to work on their speed and maintain it for 5,000 meters.”
This year’s Blue Devil boys cross country team has impressed the coaching staff with their effort and drive. In turn, the team will be looking to collect several medals throughout the season along with being one of the top teams in each invitational.
Both coach Maas and coach Beair highlighted the extra experience assistant coach Kent Pulfer brings to the staff.
“Coach Pulfer is a big runner himself and he’s very knowledgeable about the sport,” said Maas. “He’s had his own kids all run cross country and now they’re all avid runners and very into fitness.”
“He’s a marathoner and really brings a nice little addition to this staff,” said Beair. “He knows all the kids and brings just a great knowledge and a tough mentality that you need.”
Coach Pulfer is currently training for another marathon.
Race number one will be on Friday, September 2 from the Albion Country Club for Wayne High.
The Blue Devil girls cross country team is coming off a sixth place finish at state last season. Top returners include three-time state qualifier Laura Hasemann, Kyla Krusemark, Jala Krusemark, Olivia Hanson, Norah Armstrong and Frantzdie Barner while coach Maas added players to watch of Josie Ley, Sharon Vasquez, Kennasyn Blecke, Lilyan Hurner and Sophia Spieker.
Coach Maas mentioned some of the goals including to push to find their spot on the team.
“If they’re pushing for a top four or a top six position then it will make them even more competitive,” Maas mentioned. “If they’re competitive within themselves and each other on the team then that’s going to carry over into meets to make the team more competitive. A second goal is to look at their previous PRs from last year and to work to break those PRs.”
The Wayne High girls will have 13 on the high school team with two in junior high.
Complete Wayne High girls and boys cross country schedule.
The unfortunate news for the Wayne High boys cross country teams is that Jesus Zavala moved out of the district following his 12th place finish at state last season. But, the Blue Devil boys return four of their six varsity runners and seven total letterwinners.
Team captains are Easton Blecke and Mason Ley joined by Ethan McCraney and Alex Frank among the 2021 district team. Coach Beair previewed additional runners to watch of Drew Miller, Adrian Klinetobe, Kasen York as well as Boden Dobbins.
Miller was the 2021 junior high state champion with Dobbins placing 17th in the same race last year.
Coach Beair said the WHS boys cross country team will look to be pack runners.
“I think that’s a big thing with cross country,” Beair added. “Because our fifth and sixth runners get to knock out other people that would gain points if we can keep them up there. Those guys are called pushers and they’re also able to place and knock out places for other teams.”
There are roughly 12 boys out for cross country on the high school side with another 15 in the junior high ranks.
The community of Wayne and surrounding towns will have two opportunities to bring in the home atmosphere from the Wayne Country Club for the Blue Devils. Wayne’s home invite will be on Monday, September 12 at 3 p.m. while WHS will also be the host for the Mid State Conference cross country meet on Thursday, October 6.
Wayne High will again compete in Class C for cross country. District host sites were still not finished as of Thursday evening.
Another highlighted meet will be slated for Monday, September 26 in Kearney during a pre-state meet which attracts more competitors than the state championships.