Senior Brandon Grover returns to the Lodi boys cross country team after earning first-team all-conference last season. He will serve as captain this year.

The Lodi boys and girls cross country teams are trying to carry over the momentum from a strong finish to the 2018 season.

“If the runners show up every day with a positive attitude and work hard and have some fun they can do great things,” Blue Devil coach Kurt Wilson said.

The Lady Blue Devils closed last season by placing third at the Capitol Conference Meet and sectionals. But, have a lot of holes to fill this year due to graduation.

“The girls lost four varsity runners from a team that placed third at sectionals,” Wilson said. “Despite that, we will still have a solid team. In a tough conference, it will be a challenge to stay in the top half, but we will strive to do that and try again to make a run at state by the time we get to sectionals.”

The Lodi boys return most of their lineup that finished third at the Capitol Conference Meet and 13th at sectionals.

“We return most of our varsity runners, so we should be stronger than last year if we are healthy,” Wilson said. “We were third in conference last year which was pretty good considering the number of runners we lost to graduation the year before. We should try to move up a spot at conference and be more competitive at invitationals. If healthy, we could make a pretty big jump at sectionals.

The Lady Blue Devils have to replace graduated senior Isabelle Clary, who was the program’s only state qualifier last season.

Leading the charge for the Lady Blue Devils this season will be juniors Lauryn Milne and Claire Schoenemann.

Milne had a strong finish to last season. She placed 17th at the sectional meet after finishing 15th at the conference meet.

“Lauryn finished very high at sectionals the last couple of years and should have very high goals this season,” Wilson said.

Schoenemann was 29th at the sectional meet and 18th at conference last year.

“Claire improved a great deal last season and should be even better this season,” Wilson said.

Also looking to make an impact for the Lady Blue Devils this season are Alexa Bothun (So.), Lizzy Clepper (So.), Thea Collins (Sr.), Aly Endres (So.), Tori Falk (Sr.), RyAnne Franklin (So.), Marissa Houdek (So.), Sydney Larson (So.), Norah Lee (So.), Lexi Meek (Fr.), Phoenix Peterson (So.), Kayla Pierquet (So.), Karissa Wenger (Sr.) and Heather Wickham (Jr.).

“We have some girls who have a great attitude and are fired up for the season,” Wilson said. “Although we lack a lot of varsity experience, we have some girls who will step up very nicely.”

The Lodi boys return a pair of all-conference performers, senior Brandon Grover and sophomore Parker Heintz.

Grover, a captain, earned first-team all-conference a season ago after placing sixth at the Capitol Meet.

Heintz placed ninth at the conference meet and was awarded second-team all-conference honors.

Junior Mason Marchand just missed out on all-conference honors after placing 14th at the Capitol Meet.

Sophomore Luke Collilns (24th), senior Blaise Zander (25th), senior Josh Larson (29th) also ran at last year’s conference meet and return this season.

This year’s roster for the Lodi boys also includes Jacob Burmester (So.), Sean Crowder (So.), Michael Davis (So.), Paul Lins (Fr.), Xavier Meek (Fr.), Jonathan Schilling (Fr.) and Nathan Schilling (Jr.).

“We have a good blend of youth and experience,” Wilson said. “Brandon (Grover) may be out early this season, so we need others to step up if he cannot go.”

The Capitol Conference title race on the girls side should be very competitive with defending champion Lake Mills, Watertown Luther Prep and Poynette all in the mix.

“Watertown Luther Prep should be good again, as well as Lake Mills,” Wilson said. “It will be interesting to see how the rest of the conference pans out, as they all have their strengths but we should be in the mix for the third spot or maybe higher if we have some girls who put in some work this summer.”

Defending champion Watertown Luther Prep is again the favorite on the boys side.

“Watertown Luther Prep is a senior dominated team that should be very tough,” Wilson said. “Poynette will have some quality runners as well. We should be in the third spot and try to move up.”

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