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Coach expecting a good season for Wildcat runners

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HARTINGTON — They just keep coming at you, one by one, those Hartington-Newcastle cross country athletes.

Head coach Mandy Hochstein is back for a 10th season and is loaded for potential this year starting with two-time Class C state boys champion, junior Carson Noecker.

But it doesn’t end there.

Senior Parker Albers; juniors, Lukas Wortmann, Alan Santiago, Isaac Kuehn and Keegan Carl; and sophomores, Harrison Kuehn, Coven Joachimsen and Gavin Joachimsen, are all back for Hochstein on a loaded boys side, while the girls will bring back junior Jessica Opfer, who returns after a successful spring track season.

“Carson is an obvious top returner and will return this season attempting to break personal records and support his fellow teammates in any way that he can to get the team to state,” Hochstein said. “Parker solidifies our team with his running performance and his leadership.”

The boys’ team has a lot of potential, Hochstein said.

“This year’s boys team has some grit,” Hochstein said. “We are also excited for our young members of our team. They will be great additions to our already strong squad. I look forward to the success this team is capable of.”

She is anticipating some good things from the girls team, too.

“We are expecting to see some success from Jessica. Her dedication to this program throughout the summer has been amazing and she will be a great leader for the young team members joining her this season,” Coach Hochstein said.

The program also brings in sophomores, Abby Anderson and Kaydence McCray, and freshmen, Ava Noecker and Clair Rolfes, for the girls and freshmen Cole Rosener and Ryan Wiedenfeld for the boys.

“The girls will have a team of five this year. Jessica will lead a very young group of talented girls. The younger girls are all new to this program and it may take a little time to figure it out, but they are all capable of being part of a successful team this season.”

Albers, who saw last season hampered by an injury, heads into the campaign feeling pretty optimistic.

“When you have the No. 1 guy in the state, that can push us a long ways,” Albers said. “All we need to see is growth from the younger runners and we can make a little bit of a splash.

“I’ve seen Carson’s back more than anybody else. It’s motivating when you see someone around you like him and many people think, ‘that can’t be me.’ I’ve been running with him since eighth grade and you realize you aren’t going to win all the time. Maybe I won’t beat him, but maybe I can get 30 seconds closer and that’s where I get the good part.”

That, then, obviously helps the team, according to Albers.

“As much as you say it’s an individual sport, you have everyone working together,” Albers said. “Last year we got fourth and fifth at District and didn’t have a good final. If we can push ahead, a lot of teams around here have lost big-time seniors and get kids running under 20 and getting pretty decent times, you never know.”

The team opens things up by hosting their own meet 4:30 p.m., Aug. 26.

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