There’s nothing like breaking barriers to inflate the size of a roster, and Tomah High School girls cross country coach Jon Heesch has the numbers to prove it.

His preseason roster doubled in size from last year, when the Timberwolves:

  • Placed fifth at the Mississippi Valley Conference meet, its highest finish since Tomah joined the conference in 1989.
  • Sent Hannah Wilcox-Borg to the WIAA state cross country meet, the first Tomah girl to compete at state in three decades.

“The kids have been out there recruiting,” Heesch said. “Between the boys and girls teams, we have a good seven to eight kids who were recruited by other teams members. It’s awesome. It’s great to have a team that size.”

The season starts Thursday, Aug. 29, when the Timberwolves attack the hilly course at the Pioneer Invitational at Westfield High School.

Four letterwinners are back from 2018. The leader is obviously Wilcox-Borg, a junior. She won’t be ready for the start of the season due to a lingering injury from track and field, and Heesch is being patient with her recovery.

Fortunately, her offseason wasn’t a training wipeout. She was able to swim competitively and bike during the summer.

“There was a lot of cross-training she was able to do,” Heesch said. “She has great endurance, so she’ll be able to come back quickly.”

Until Wilcox-Borg returns, the number-one runner is Brooke Bakken. She was an honorable mention MVC runner last season, and Heesch said she’ll give the Timberwolves a “solid number-two runner” when the Timberwolves are at full strength.

“She really made strides late last year and had a solid track season,” Heesch said. “She’s in a better spot than she was last year.”

The other two letterwinners are senior Brielle Harmel, a three-year letterwinner, and junior Jenna Hausman.

The competition for the other three varsity spots is wide open. One of the frontrunners is senior newcomer Jennie Jorgensen. Another senior, Reyna Herold, ran mostly jayvee last season but is making a solid varsity bid. Madeline Kline, a sophomore who competed for the Sparta-Tomah swim team that was disbanded in 2019, is another prime varsity candidate.

Rounding out the roster are:

  • Seniors—Autumn Sparks, Sammie Spang.
  • Sophomores—Kendall Frederick, Ava Harmel, Cassandra Lenning, Alyssa Alden.
  • Freshmen—Aisha Topgyal Hughart, Kellie Jorgensen, Kaylee Miller.
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Heesch likes the competition for varsity spots.

“They’ve been pushing each other − coming in early and staying late,” he said. “In years past, it was virtually guaranteed that every runner was going to run varsity.”

Heesch said this year’s team has the potential to push beyond fifth in the MVC.

“They know they have the makeup to finish higher,” Heesch said.

Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at steve.rundio@lee.net.

MVC GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Results from 2018 meet

Onalaska;21

La Crosse Central;65

La Crosse Logan;66

Holmen;123

Tomah;133

La Crosse Aquinas;140

Sparta;186

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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