Wakonda cross country team ready for season by Lindsay Nelson Summer has come to an end and cross country teams everywhere are putting away their sandals and lacing up their running shoes. Cross country training officially started on Aug. 18.
This will be the fourth year of cross country at Wakonda and the team will be returning five letter winners from the 2002 boys' cross country season. The returning letter winners are Nick and Eric Skonhovd, Rob Gregoire, Tyler Moser and Bo Martz. All five of these runners ran at the 2002 State B Cross Country Meet and received second place as a team.
Senior Nick Skonhovd, the repeat champion of the Region 3B Cross Country Meet, was the team's top runner last year placing in the top 20 at every meet he competed at. He ended his season last year placing seventh at the state cross country meet.
Sophomore Rob Gregoire placed second as a freshman last year in the Region 3B Cross Country Meet and eighth at state. Junior Eric Skonhovd
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Junior Tyler Moser placed ninth at regions and freshman Bo Martz placed 16th at regions.
The Warriors have added more power to their team with newcomer Jason Holoch. Holoch transferred from Vermillion and will run his first year of cross country at Wakonda.
Coach Tony Skonhovd said, "Jason is a very nice addition to our cross country program."
The Warriors are also returning two junior varsity runners this year, freshman Patrick Morrison and eighth-grader Chris Nelsen.
Wakonda will only be returning one letter winner from the 2002 girls' cross country team. Eighth-grader Katie Sokolowski placed 19th at the Region 3B meet in 2002.
Ashley Steffen is also a returning member of the girls' team.
During the regular season the boys' team was undefeated against Class B competition with nine first place finishes. They also had two second place finishes to "A" schools during the course of their season.
The boys also finished as the 2002 State Class B cross country runners up. The combined record for the 2002 Wakonda Warrior cross country team and the teams it competed against was 86-3.
The Wakonda cross country team started this year's season right where they left off. Their first meet was at Beresford on Aug. 29. The boys' team came home with a first place finish with a total of 7 points.
Gregoire led the pack with a first place time of 15:53.0 with Eric Skonhovd on his heels with a time of 16:22.0 for second. Nick Skonhovd placed fourth with a time of 17:00, Jason Holoch, sixth at 17:09.0, and Tyler Moser placed 10th, 17:44.0.
Patrick Morrison also had a personal best in the junior varsity run with a time of 18:23.0. Gregoire broke the 5K-race Wakonda school record with his first place finish time. For the girls' team, Katie Sokolowski placed second in the junior varsity run.
Coach Skonhovd said, "This was the best season opener that I have had as a coach of cross country in the past four years. We had five runners in the top 10, just an outstanding effort by everyone."
Wakonda's cross country team also participated in the Dakota Valley Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 2. The boys' team brought home another first place finish with Gregoire leading in the Wakonda pack. Gregoire placed third with an 18:11:0 time. Right behind Gregoire, Nick Skonhovd came in fourth, 19:17:5 and Holoch came in fifth, 20:00:8. Eric Skonhovd placed seventh, 20:12:8 and Moser, 13th, 21:29.5.
For the girls, Sokolowski came in at 20th with a time of 19:34. Martz also placed fourth in the junior varsity run with a time of 16:30.9.
"The team will run hard, run long and finish strong!" coach Skonhovd said.
He feels good about returning five varsity boys from last year and also feels fortunate to have picked up Holoch who will make the team even more competitive by season's end. Coach Skonhovd misses not having a complete girls team but hopes the girls will still qualify as individuals for the state cross country meet in Huron this year.
"I hope my runners can stay focused and work hard to reach our main goal of being the 2003 State B Boys' Cross Country champions," he said.
His son, Nick Skonhovd, has the same goal in mind and said, "I've really been looking forward to this year's cross country season because we have everybody coming back from last year's state runners-up team."
With the experience, dedication, and hard work this team has put in they will run hard, run long and finish strong all the way to the state meet.