The Pratt High crosscountry team begins the year with some solid returners, but also with some questions to answer.

The Pratt High crosscountry team begins the year with some solid returners, but also with some questions to answer.

Head coach Kathy Hitz, assisted again by Derek Liggett, welcomes 14 harriers to fall workouts— a number which is down from that of recent seasons. “We have 5 girls and 9 boys out,” Hitz said. “We don’t have a lot of kids, but the ones we have are solid and committed. We have seen them all summer.”

Much of the work in crosscountry is done in the summer preseason, as runners put in the mileage to establish their cardio-vascular base. Most of the Frog harriers were diligent about making the summer workouts, according to Hitz.

Four of the boys are seniors. Joseph Loomis is expected to be the Greenbacks’ bell cow, as he has paced the Pratt boys for a couple of seasons when he has been healthy. “He really put the miles in this summer,” Hitz mentioned.

Caleb Hitz and Chance Reh are in their 4th year of crosscountry. Coach Hitz thinks Reh, especially, might be on the verge of a breakout season. “Chance looks like he’s really ready to go this year,” she commented.

The other senior is Jacob Schafer, who is in his second year as a harrier and could step into a varsity role this season. Jacob Berry is the only junior on the squad. He’s battling an aggravated Achilles currently, but could contribute when that heals up.

Brody Cronister is back for his sophomore campaign after showing promise as a freshman last year. Dylan Pelland, a State wrestling qualifier last year, joins the team for the first time as a sophomore. Coach Hitz looks for the athletic Pelland to be in the mix as he gets distance running figured out.

Freshmen Kedric Spurgin and Ethan Wilson round out the team.

“I’m excited to see what the boys can do,” Coach Hitz said. “I think our upperclassmen are ready to step up this year.”

The girls squad is battling a numbers issue, as only 5 girls appear on the roster. It takes 5 runners to qualify as a team, so there is little margin for error or injury on the girls team. “We’re going to be walking a tightrope this season,” Hitz agreed.

Returning State runner-up Halle Helfrich will undoubtedly pace the Greenback girls in her sophomore campaign. “She had a great freshman year,” Hitz acknowledged. “I expect her to continue to compete at the highest level.”

The supporting cast has quality if not numbers. Sophomore Christine James joins the crosscountry squad after enjoying a successful track season last spring. Fellow soph Tori Hassler contributed on last year’s successful girls xc team.

Junior Ruth Anthony returns to the team after a year’s absence. Anthony showed tremendous potential as a freshman before suffering a bad ankle injury at State. Senior Nichole Moreland returns for her senior campaign. Moreland has impressive ability, but has battled health issues throughout her career.

Basically, the girls squad has the potential to be pretty good, if everyone can stay healthy. Otherwise, they’ll just be running for individual medals.

Hitz is anxious for the start of the season. “This is an enjoyable group to coach,” she said. The Frogs will go 2-a-days this week and next week until school starts. The first meet will be Thursday September 4 at Clearwater, 4:30 p.m.