Scot runners want to move up in league

The Highland girls’ cross country team returns a number of letterwinners as they hope to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish in the conference and 13th-place finish at districts.

Returning are seniors Olivia Longhenry and Sophia Thompson; juniors Clarissa Dudgeon, Liz Jensen and Morgan Wilhelm and sophomores Madison Cecil, Brooklyn Geiger and Sammie Trusler. Head coach Shawn Wilhelm also has a number of new runners to help replace graduates Jenna Brown, Hailey Howard and Laura Spearman.

“Alex DeBord and Sarah Cooley have come out as seniors and look to add some depth to the team,” he said. “As for the freshmen, Mia White, Heather Ross and Hayley Price hope to work their way into varsity spots as the season progresses.”

Wilhelm is simply hoping for his charges to remain healthy this year.

“After an injury-riddled 2016 season, the Flying Lady Scots hope to bounce back and have a successful 2017 campaign,” he said. “Thompson leads the girls and continues to provide solid senior leadership and pushes them to find a team that is capable of making a run to the regional meet in October.”

Wilhelm looks at the new Knox Morrow Athletic Conference as a strong one, citing the majority of teams as having a good shot at winning a league title. “Northmor returns a very solid group of girls from last year’s championship, but Centerburg, Highland, Mount Gilead and Fredericktown are not far behind,” he said.

The boys’ cross country team returns six from a team that was fourth in both the conference and district, as juniors Chandler Bumpus, Collin Kipp and Dalton Lee; as well as sophomores Branton Howard, Christian Miller and Zach Wetzel all are back.

While the team graduated Tyler Bowen and Christian Buchholz, they will add freshman Tucker Tague, who was 11th in the MOAC middle school race last year and 35th at the middle school state championships — giving Wilhelm hope that he will challenge for a varsity spot.

“The Flying Scots are sophomore and junior loaded this season,” he said. “Everyone on the team is a junior or sophomore with the exception of Tague. They constantly challenge each other in practice to raise the level of achievement. This team has a hunger to do the work to return to the regional level that they just missed last year. Their ultimate goal is getting the Flying Scots to the state meet as a team for the first time in many years.”

Wilhelm looks at Fredericktown, Northmor and Mount Gilead to be the top challengers for Highland in their bid for a league title in the KMAC this year.

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Pictured above is the girls’ cross country team at Highland. above is the girls’ cross country team at Highland. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

The 2017 Highland boys’ cross country team is in the above picture. 2017 Highland boys’ cross country team is in the above picture. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

By Rob Hamilton

Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS