The Shakopee boys cross country team is looking for big improvement this season.
Shakopee finished the 2018 season with a 10th-place finish at the South Suburban Conference.
“I hope that the boys team can start to see some major improvements from where we were at last year,” head coach Zach Haskins said. “Many of our boys put in a lot of summer miles and I think it is going to pay off for them in the long run. I want to see the team start trending upwards and hopefully finish around seventh place at conference.”
The Sabers took the first step to improvement as the Sabers finished in 18th place in its first meet of the season at the 29-team Irish Invitational last Friday in Rosemount.
Shakopee finished with 511 points to finish 18th. White Bear Lake won the meet with 77 points followed by Eden Prairie in second, St. Paul Highland Park in third, Minnetonka in fourth and Eagan in fifth.
The top runner for the Sabers was sophomore Dan Olfert, who finished in 69th place with a time of 11 minutes, .3 seconds.
He was followed by junior Ben Palmieri in 82nd place with a time of 11:08.4. Next was sophomore Ryan O’Connor in 104th (11:23.5), sophomore Zach Yuza in 123rd (11:41.7), senior Simon Horning in 133rd (11:49.7), sophomore Riley Gilkison in 162nd (12:13.8) and senior Maxwell Wilson in 173rd (12:24.2).
Five of the seven runners for Shakopee were juniors or younger and Haskins said while moving up in the standings, he also wants to develop his younger runners.
“My expectations for the team are to move up from our 10th place finish at conference last year and to develop and grow our younger runners for the future,” he said. “We have a team of 51 athletes and only seven of them are upper classmen.”
Haskins saw some positives from the first meet and would like those to continue throughout the season as the team works to get better.
“I also want to see our varsity runners start to challenge other teams in races” he said. “Last year, we were not the best team and we oftentimes looked out of it from the start. I want to see our mental toughness sharpen up so that we can challenge better teams and use that to improve our own team.”
The Shakopee girls cross country team also opened the season at the Irish Invitational and earned a top-10 finish.
Shakopee finished in eighth place in the 24-team meet with 282 points. Stillwater was the invite champion with 53 points. Minnetonka finished second with 56 points followed by Eden Prairie in third (114), Highland Park (120), and White Bear Lake (134).
Junior Jayda Becker earned a top-20 finish for the Sabers in the individual finish as she finished in 14th place with a time of 12:11.2.
She was followed by teammates Allie Handt in 58th place (13:01.7), Carly Gorter in 60th (13:03.3), Grace Schmelz-Bundt in 62nd (13:04.7), Katelyn Buth in 88th (13:27.8), Callie Peterson in 90th (13:30.7), and Isabel Meger in 116th place (14:03.1).
Both the boys and girls cross country teams will next compete next Friday at the Lakeville North AppleJack Invite at Steve Michaud Park in Lakeville.