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FALL PREVIEW: Several key runners look to make impact for Panthers

Photo by Sam Thiel The 2020 Tracy-Milroy-Balaton cross country team includes front row (L to R): Cade Swenhaugen, Nolan Verlinde, Caitlin Devereaux, Mallorie Hicks, Mandie Pond and Linaye Odom. Middle row (L to R): Tyler Arnold, Elizabeth Fultz, Lauren Verlinde, Annaka Hook, Grace Hanson and Carter Sweetman. Back row (L to R): Jordan Munson, Nathan Fultz, Jayden Torgeson, Trayton Radke, Gabe Struchen, Gage Struchen and Madison Timmerman.

TRACY — The Tracy-Milroy-Balaton boys and girls cross country are trying to take advantage of the unique fall season by implementing more of the training aspects they might not have normally utilized during the season. One of those is simply getting in the weight room for team lifts to make the athletes well-equipped for whatever sport they end up playing, according to coach Marie Hanson.

“We’re utilizing the weight room quite a bit more and trying to make all around athletes out of the kids, especially since I have kids that maybe might not come back out next year because of the unique circumstances this year, so I’m trying to promote all athleticism and I think that’s really going to help,” Hanson said.

The Panthers will have a mix of experience and youth this year. On the girls side, TMB will be led by Annaka Hook, Jordan Munson, Madison Timmerman and Mallorie Hicks.

“Annaka is our top returning girl and she’s been running since she was in seventh grade and she continues to get a little bit stronger each year. We’ve got Jordan, who was out for cross country before and then switched over to volleyball. She’s just an excellent all-around athlete, so we’re really looking forward to what she can do even though it’s a modified season,” Hanson said. “Madison is out for the first time and she’s been looking solid in practice and she’s built for this. And then Mallorie is an eighth-grader who was very competitive in the junior high races last year and was in the top five quite a bit, so I’m looking forward to her season too.”

On the boys side, TMB will be led by Gabe and Gage Struchen, along with Cade Swenhaugen and Nathan Fultz.

“On the boys side, Nathan is out for the first time and he’ll add a good core to the boys team,” Hanson said. “Cade is still young and he really loves running, cross country and track, so he’s been working hard and has been in the weight room a lot as has Gage Struchen. Gabe Struchen for a long time was the only one out for his class in cross country and he’s looking very strong this year.”

TMB opened its season on Sept. 3 at the LQPV/DB invite where the boys team took third and the girls team recorded an incomplete team score. Going into the rest of their season, Hanson said she’s looking forward to creating some sense of normalcy for their team.

“Just having some aspect of normalcy for the athletes,” Hanson said. “It’s normal for them to be going to a competition, it’s normal for them to have practice after school and being around them, they’re so attentive right now and grateful and their attitude is just really what you want right now.”

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