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West Lafayette girls cross country still aiming high

August 14, 2011
West Lafayette Jr.-Sr. High School

Written by JON STROSHINE - jstroshine@jconline.com

Expectations will be high this year for the West Lafayette girls cross country team.

Not that that's anything new for the Red Devils.

West Side returns four of seven starters a year after finishing third in the state, which has many in the program excited for this year.

"We think we can be a top-five team this year," West Lafayette coach Steve Lewark said. "As long as they can stay healthy, that's the key."

The Red Devils' biggest graduation loss was Kaisa Goodman, last year's top runner. Goodman finished fifth at the 2010 state meet.

"Any time you lose a No. 1 runner, that's gonna affect the team," Lewark said. "Someone's gonna have to step up to take that place. We do have the people that can do that."

That includes Grace Lachmund, Cailey Daluga and Bobbie Burgess, a trio of juniors. The transition from underclassmen to upperclassmen has changed their perspectives.

"It's just such a different role than I'm used to," Daluga said. "It's just cool to realize that all these kids are looking at you. It motivates me more to be a stronger runner."

Daluga is coming off a broken foot suffered this spring. Training with her older sister, who runs cross country at Purdue, has been part of her summer workouts.

Offseason preparations are another reason for the excitement surrounding this season.

"All of us have done a really good job of putting in the extra miles," Lachmund said. "Hopefully that works."

Last fall's success has motivated this summer's training. It has also encouraged runners to strive for greatness.

"I think (finishing third in state) definitely has affected us because we know what we can do," Burgess said. "At the beginning of last year, we were pumped that we could even be in the top 10."

This year, just cracking the top 10 might not be good enough.

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