The Ripon High School cross country team lost 23 athletes from last year’s team to graduation.
This might be a negative indicator for most teams — but not this one.
Thanks to an influx of new athletes, this year’s numbers are comparable to last year — to within a few runners.
Twelve freshmen join the fold this season, but the real testament to the program is the 14 upper-classmen that are new additions.
And even better news for the program, according to coach Chris Gatzke, is that the team has been more competitive in practice than he has seen in the past.
“The first two weeks of practice went very well,” Gatzke said. “They are really pushing each other. It’s almost like our practices are mini-races to them.”
This is good news, considering that the past teams haven’t been slouches — the boys have qualified for the state meet as a team the past four seasons.
Although the boys lose some experience, including four-time state qualifier Jake Tsacudakis, a good mix of athletes are ready to step up, according to the coach.
Read the full story in the Sept. 2, 2010 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.