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Cross country opens with a pair of coaches

Photo by Christi Fournier

Photo by Christi Fournier

Photo by Christi Fournier

Cross country opens with a pair of coaches

October 5, 2015

Running 25 to 40 miles a week, MN cross country is gearing up for a brand new season of fall running.

But this year, the JV and Varsity teams are running in with two new, yet experienced, coaches, Emily Janda and Walter Mertz.

“I love cross country. I actually did it in high school. Then i became a volunteer assistant coach at Millard North and South for five years,” Janda said.

With the new coaches, students are still warming up to the different workouts, routines, and ideas. Taylor Caniglia, a senior, has been running for four years, and is thrilled to work with the coaches.

“I was really close to Coach K (former cross country coach Larissa Knudson) and Coach Etz (former cross country coach Katie Etzelmiller) so it made losing them as coaches really hard for me personally. But i am really excited to see what the new coaches will do for us,” Caniglia said.

With fresh and young talent, both coaches and teammates hope to take girls and boys varsity to State in Kearney.

“Just with how many students and how hard they’re working, I think they can do it,” said Mertz.

While competitions and meets are approaching, Mertz and Janda are changing things up a bit to ensure student’s safety.

“We gave them rules because it ives more of a structure, helps them stay safe, and to follow other guidelines. This is because we go off campus a lot, and we want to make sure everyone gets back to Millard North safely,” said Janda.

Still, even with the changes, it doesn’t change the objective for cross country and the object lessons it sets for the students.

“We want to hopefully set an example to what it is to be an adult, and what it is to be the person you can be when you grow up,” Mertz said.

Right now, MN cross country is just getting back from the long summer, like running in different groups and setting paces and workouts.

“I like being able to choose which group i’m in, because i can gauge for myself what i think i am able to do,” Caniglia said.

From there, the coaches are planning on pushing students to do better for the upcoming meets and competitions.

“I would hope by the next couple of weeks we’ll be having everyone run three to four miles minimum or more daily,” Mertz said.

Although it is early season, both coaches are excited for what this year brings them, along with what they can bring to the team.

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