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Mitchell cross country teams look to improve

Building off a team that placed higher in 2013 than in 2012 will be the main goal for both Mitchell High School cross country teams coming into this season.

Mitchell cross country coach Scott Munsen said his team has the right attitude and work ethic in place to make the 2014 season successful.

"If we can move up a couple spots in the conference and a place or two statewide, it's not where we want to be, but at least it's improvement," Munsen said. "It's difficult when you're trying to fight your way out of the bottom."

The team has around 25 runners competing this year, and Munsen said more middle school kids should continue to join the program as the year progresses.

The Mitchell boys team placed 16th out of 17 teams last year in the state meet and returns top runner Riley Cowins, who placed 43rd in the state meet last year.

"He can hopefully be someone toward the front in the ESD and in the state," Munsen said. "If he could place in top 10 in the ESD and top 20 in the state, that would be huge for us.

"I think we have a more competitive team than last year."

The girls return all runners from the team that placed 15th in 2013, including top finisher Mary Krause, who placed 37th at last year's state meet.

"I think Mary will be a very competitive runner, like she was last year," Munsen said. "If she can stay healthy, she will be a leader for us."

The team will compete in its first meet of the season at the Mitchell Invitational on Aug. 30 in Mitchell.

Munsen said he will know a lot more about his team after the first month of the season and currently has his team focused on fitness.

"We want to get that competitive phase going, with hill training and some repetitions on the track or grass," Munsen said. "If we can get everyone in good shape and start to shave a couple minutes off their two-mile times in a month, we'll be great. It's just going to take some work to see if we can get to that point."

While the team still has around two months until the state meet, Munsen said he hopes the team will keep working hard toward a strong season.

"If everyone works and stays healthy, there is no reason we can't improve and place higher this year," Munsen said.