Algona Cross Country Enters 2023 With Big Expectations

by Tyler Lance
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The Algona Bulldog boys and girls cross country teams are putting the finishing touches on summer training and getting set for their first race of the season, Thursday, August 24th at Spencer.

The boys program comes off one of their best seasons in years, capturing the North Central Conference title, defeating Clear Lake by three points and St. Edmond by five to take the crown. The Bulldogs also won the Humboldt Invitational and Estherville Lincoln Central Cross country meet, with runner up finishes at Spencer, Eagle Grove, Webster City, and the Algona Invitational.

Algona graduated multi-time state qualifier Ryan Stundahl from last year’s team, but returns a deep group of varsity runners that will be ready to pick up where they left off last year according to Head Coach Pete Waltz.

Among the returners are sophomore Gavin Weber, who posted a 5k best of 17:31 last year and eventually qualified for the class 3A state meet in track and field, placing 19th in the 1600 meters in 4:33, as well as senior Jace Mortensen, who also broke 18 minutes with a season best of 17:43. Mortensen and Weber placed 4th and 5th at last year’s North Central Conference championship race respectively to earn all-conference honors.

Algona’s roster will not only feature seven seniors, but also returns junior Isaac Wilson, who posted a best time of 18:07 last season and was consistently in the Bulldogs’ scoring five, as well as sophomore Barrett Morgan, who broke 19 minutes and was a varsity contributor throughout last season.

Coach Waltz has seen the potential of this group throughout summer workouts.

The Algona girls cross country team comes into the season with a small roster of six runners, four of whom are freshmen. According to Waltz, in spite of having a young team, the Bulldogs are already acquainted with the sport of cross country after gaining experience in middle school.

The freshmen on this year’s team are Sienna Fehr, Mara Davis, Hayden Kuhlmann, and McKenna VanReese. Algona also welcomes junior Kaitlyn Burns, who is joining high school cross country for the first time.

Junior Malyn Davis provides experience for the varsity roster. Davis often ended up as the Bulldogs’ lead runner last year with Moriah Knapp dealing with injuries during last year’s campaign. Davis improved over a minute from her freshman year, posting a personal best of 21:22 last season. Waltz says Davis consistently improved throughout the year.

The Bulldogs placed 5th at last year’s North Central Conference meet, with Davis finishing in 17th place.

When looking at the two programs, priority number one for Waltz is making sure his runners stay healthy. After that, he feels a big season could follow.

The Bulldog cross country teams open the season on August 24th at Spencer. Some meets of note include the Algona Invitational from the River Road Golf Course on September 25th, the North Central Conference meet at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge on October 10th, and the district meet on October 18th at a location to be determined. The state meet in Fort Dodge takes place on Friday, October 27th and Saturday, October 28th.

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