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AUSTIN EDITION - Packers are healthy, for openers

Austin returns four of its top-seven runners

By Guy N. Limbeck

glimbeck@postbulletin.com

The Austin boys cross country team has had to battle through injuries in recent seasons. Coach Tony Einertson hopes to buck that trend this year.

Because of injuries a year ago, the Packers had to dig deep into their talent pool. That resulted in a ninth-place finish in the 10-team Big Nine Conference. The Packers do return a solid core of runners this year, however.

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"With the injuries we had last year, we return four of our seven varsity runners," Einertson said. "We still don't have a lot of experience, but they got some good experience last year."

Senior Kevin Groh returns as the No. 1 runner for the second straight year.

"Kevin will be far and away the leader of our team," Einertson said. "He put in a great summer, about 400 miles."

Austin's other returning runners on the varsity a year ago are sophomore Isaac VanProosdy and seniors Ojulu Ogilla and Andy Sundal. VanProosdy closed last year as Austin's No. 2 runner, Ogilla was No. 5 and Sundal No. 7.

Groh, Sundal and fellow senior Nate Graff are the team captains. Groh, VanProosdy and Ogilla are all in their third year on the varsity.

"We have good experience up at the top, but we just hope to fill in those fifth, six and seven spots," Einertson said.

Graff is expected to compete for one of the vacant positions along with senior Camron Hunter, junior Brian Forman, sophomore Ryan Urlik and seventh-grader Tim Erickson.

"It's going to be very competitive filling in those spots," Einertson said.

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Einertson says the Packers should be improved in the Big Nine this year, but doesn't know how large of a jump the team can make. Winona and Mankato West again look like the elite teams in the league.

"We want to move up from last year," Einertson said. "We'd like to be in the top five, but I don't think it's realistic."

The Packers open the home season today with a 4:30 p.m. meet at Ramsey Golf Course. Einertson is happy to have a full allotment of runners on hand.

"The big thing is everyone is healthy coming into this year," the coach said.

AUSTIN BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

Roster

Senior -- Kevin Groh*#, Ojulu Ogilla*, Nate Graff#, Andy Sundal*#, Chris Lutz, Camron Hunter, Josh Bjork, Wyatt Staley. Juniors -- Jeff Eng, Brian Forman. Sophomores -- Isaac VanProosdy*, Ryan Urlik. Freshman -- Trey Kusterer. Seventh-grader -- Tim Erickson.

* -- Returning letterwinners. # -- Team captain

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Schedule

Aug. 27 -- at St. Olaf Invitational, 4:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 -- Austin Invite at Ramsey Golf Course, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 9 -- at Hayfield Invitational, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 16 -- at Mayo Invitational, 4 p.m.

Sept. 20 -- at Milca Invitational, 10 a.m.

Sept. 28 -- at Mankato West Invitational, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 -- at Owatonna Invitational, 4 p.m.

Oct. 12 -- Austin Invitational at Ramsey, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 -- Big Nine Meet at Owatonna, 4 p.m.

Oct. 28 -- Section 1AA Meet at Owatonna, 3 p.m.

Nov. 6 -- Class AA State Meet at Northfield, TBA

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