GOESSEL — The Goessel High School cross country teams will look for a repeat of league titles and a return to state competition.

Brian Lightner begins his sixth season with the Bluebirds.

The Goessel boys were first in the Wheat State League last season, second in the Class 2A regionals and seventh at state. The girls were first in the league, fourth at regionals and didn’t place at state.

“Our motto this year is “Every Step Matters” and our goal as a team is to have a purpose in everything we do in life, both in and out of running, and to give our best effort wherever and whenever,” Lightner said. “We will be learning that it’s the little things that lead to big successes and challenging each other to make every day, every practice, every hill, every minute and every step count. We are wanting to maintain and develop our family atmosphere where we look out for one another and encourage each other so that everyone can feel comfortable taking risks and challenging themselves physically, mentally and socially in the races and in their lives. I hope that through a dedicated commitment to a solid training program each runner will experience their own version of success and will be satisfied with their effort at the end of the season.”

Returning letterwinners for the boys include senior Jerah Schmidt; juniors Dawson Duerksen, David Sawyer and Brendon Hicks; and sophomores Timothy Schrag and Jacob Schrag.

Duerksen was 27th at state last year, seven spots out of medal contention. Hicks was 73rd at state, followed by Jacob Schrag in 74th. Timothy Schrag was 86th.

“Top three returners for the boys team are Dawson, Jerah and Brendon with 2018 season bests of 18:18, 18:35, and 19:13 respectively. We are excited for the boys’ season ahead with five of the top seven runners returning from a seventh place finish at the state meet last year,” Lightner said. “We will be lead by senior Jerah Schmidt who really improved his track times last spring and has continued his running program throughout the summer. Sophomores Jacob and Timothy Schrag are looking to make the sophomore drop in times this year as they were both able to run under 20:00 last year and are wanting to improved. We hope to defend our league title with a very significant challenger in Canton-Galva who has very good and young runners as well. If we are able to get four runners under 19:00, we hope to make a return trip to the state meet and make a push for the podium.”

Returning letterwinners for the Goessel girls are seniors Elyse Boden and Porclien Unruh.

“The top three girls returners are Elyse, Porclein and Katelyn (Olson) with 2018 season bests of 23:21, 24:44 and 26:22 respectively,” Lightner said. “We only have four returning runners this year and are hoping to add a few more girls to the team the first week of school. This will be the smallest girls team we have had in awhile and each of these girls know they will be counted on every week of competition to bring their best. If they can focus on improving each day and continue to encourage each other through the tough, early meets of the season then they will show big improvement at the end of the season.”

The Bluebirds expect at total of 11 boys and five girls.

“This group of kids will enjoy being together and creating fun and that is an important aspect to participation and competition in high school athletics,” Lightner said. “We strive to represent Goessel to the best of our ability and hope to compete at a high level with sportsmanship, heart and training both on and off the course. We appreciate your support and coverage this season and are looking forward to sharing our season with you.”