The Columbia Falls girls cross country team should be solid this year as it returns last year’s divisional champion, Samantha Mundel, as well as a host of supporting runners.
Mundel is a senior this season and looking stronger than ever, coach Richard Menicke said.
“She’s been running 50 miles a week,” Menicke said. “She has a chance to do something special this year.”
Mundel is coming off a state Class A title in the 3,200 meters in track last spring. She took ninth at the state cross-country meet last year.
All Wildkats who ran in the state meet last year are returning, Menicke said, including Meredith Stolte, Kendra Cahoon, Haylie Peacock, Miranda Livingston, Allie Folks, Sadie Panasuk and Morgan Christensen.
The team also adds Hanna Freeman, who is a good multi-sport athlete.
“The girls look fantastic,” Menicke said.
On the boys’ side, there’s work to do. The team lost its top runners, James Ratzlaff and Zayne Brunz, to graduation. Returning runners for the Wildcats include Glenn Morden, Storm Kemppainen, Winfield West and Qynn Ingraham. The team also has two freshmen, Gabe Knudsen and Braxton Shewalter.
“We’ve got some good kids who are willing to work hard,” Menicke said.
Menicke has been with the Columbia Falls cross-country program since 1996 and has been the head coach for the past six years.