WHS cross country champs hope to defend title by Ashley Anderson With last year's title of state champions, it should be another exciting year for the Wakonda boys' cross country team. Coach Tony Skonhovd will lead the team to another successful year. Also, coming off a dream season junior Rob Gregoire hopes to repeat as individual class B state champion.
Even though the team said goodbye to last year's seniors Nick Skonhovd and Jason Holoch, the team is still loaded with talent. Besides Gregoire, the talent comes in seniors Eric Skonhovd, placing fourth individually at state; Tyler Moser placing 36th; sophomore Bo Martz, letter winner; and freshman Chris Nelson.
"We should have a solid year. I have four varsity runners ranging from four to five years of cross country experience," said coach Skonhovd.
The girls' team consists of Katie Sokolowski, letter winner with three years running experience and newcomer Adrianne Logue.
"I did not get enough girls out for team to go along with Katie and Adrianne," coach Skonhovd said.
With six returning letter winners and two newcomers, coach Skonhovd will continue to have high expectations.
"We were state champs last year because I had a group of runners whose main goal was to be the 2003 state champions! We expected to be champions in 2002 but ended up runner-up and I feel that stung a little for my runners.
"I feel that motivated them for the 2003 season. With that same focus we have a shot of repeating as state champs if we stay healthy," he said.
Coach Skonhovd also has some new techniques of training that he likes to try every year whether it be from running magazines or camps.
"That's one thing about cross country; there are so many different ways to train distance runners and more than one way to have successful programs. I have learned a lot from other successful programs and Coach Kinnunen from USD. I try to use methods that will benefit the type of runners I have," coach Skonhovd adds.
Along with new techniques comes new goals for the 2004 season: 1. 2004 TVC Champions. 2. 2004 Region 3B Champions. 3. 2004 State Class B Cross Country Champions. Well it should be another interesting year, especially from last year's state champion Rob Gregoire.
Skonhovd feels Gregoire has a good chance of defending his title.
"Rob has all the tools to be repeat champion. He is a real competitive athlete and that is why he has had the success he has had. Rob has worked very hard to get where he is at. To be a repeat champion the bar has to be lifted and Rob will have to do more to retain that top spot. Our team success depends on how each of our runner's meet their individual goals. One of Rob's goals is to be the repeat champ. Our team success depends on this."
On Aug. 27, the cross country team already competed in a meet in Beresford. Gregoire, not surprisingly, took home first place with a time of 15:51. This is the fastest 5k in school's history. Senior Eric Skonhovd took fourth with a time of 17:05. Senior Tyler Moser placed 15th, 17:45; and Bo Martz took home 16th, 17:51. They won as a team as well.
For the varsity girls, Katie Sokolowski placed 16th with the fastest 4K in school's history, 16:11.
In the girls' junior varsity division, Adrianne Logue finished with a time of 20:20 for 61st place.
Come out and watch these athletes in action. You can find their schedule on-line at Wakonda.k12.sd.us.