Spike in numbers should help Tartan boys cross country

Following a sixth-place finish in the conference meet a year ago, the Tartan High School boys cross country team is looking for a marked improvement this season. A jump in the number of runners out for the team has head coach Matt Duffee and his charges feeling optimistic.

The 23 out for cross country gives the Titans their largest team in more than 10 years. 

“Numbers are way up, which makes for a competitive dynamic,” said Duffee, who is in his 18th season as Tartan’s head coach. “There are numerous athletes who will fight for a varsity spot.”

Turnover from a year ago is also low. Tartan had only one senior in its section-meet lineup. Among the returning runners this year are senior captains Ryan Israelson, Zach Drayna and Jeff Munter.

Tartan’s top finisher at sections in 2015 was Sam Nofziger, who this fall is a freshman on the men’s cross country team at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The other six runners who competed at last year’s section meet are all back on the team this fall. Senior Cody Smelik and juniors Drew Accola and Joey Hinzman and were second, third and fourth, respectively, across the finish line and were followed by junior Adam Revior, Munter and Drayna.

Senior Patrick Lupelow is a newcomer who could push for varsity time.

As for goals for the season, Duffee would like to see his team jump up at least into the top half of the standings at the Metro East Conference championship meet. Mahtomedi and St. Thomas Academy are usually among the frontrunners in the conference and Duffee wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again this year.

Tartan is scheduled to open the season on Friday, Sept. 2 at the Rosemount Invitational.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

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