Cross Country: Cougars working with small numbers

EBEN – Superior Central is working with small numbers this season as it tries to rebuild its cross country program.

The Cougars, who have four boys and three girls on their roster, resume in Saturday’s Newberry Invitational.

“They needed somebody from the community to coach the team,” said first-year coach Kim Spranger. “I have a passion for running and this is a way for me to give something back to the community. This is also a way for me to teach the kids running can be fun.”

Senior Nick Maki, pulling double duty with football, was the boys’ pacesetter in the opener Aug. 27 at Munising. He placed eighth by covering the hilly 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 44 seconds.

“Nick is a great example of an excellent runner,” said Spranger. “Only, he has to run on his own because he can’t make it to the practices.”

Sophomore Jesse Eisenbroeck paced the Cougars in their own invitational by taking ninth. He covered the 3.2-mile course in 20:59, with classmate Greg Seppanen 12th (21:14) and freshman Luke Leppanen 15th (21:58).

The girls are led by senior Selena Walters, who hopes to run in college and was 13th on her home course at 26:49. Classmate Molly Swajanen finished 19th. Junior Evelyn Walter missed the home meet due to illness.

“Even though we have only three runners, we have good balance on this team,” said Spranger. “These girls are also good leaders. They’ve been working with the middle school kids a lot.”

Practices have been held at several locations, which Spranger believes will be of great help to the Cougars.

“We have a great area for running and an opportunity to ran on a variety of courses,” she said. “I’m having a blast and I think the kids are enjoying it to. This should help prepare us for the meets. Right now, I’m just trying to teach them perseverance. This is also a way to teach them to work hard and about life’s lessons.”