“We’ve got a good group of runners this year,” said Panther cross country coach Cliff Boos. “They push each other well in practice. They’ve got a lot of enthusiasm and they’re very hard workers. They really seem to put forth the effort.”
Several of the runners are returning to the program, starting with senior school record holder Drew Feller.
“Drew set the school record at five kilometers last year in Worland,” said Boos. “He’s a tremendous runner and just works so hard out there. He had a great regional meet for us last season and then got sick before the state meet and was running at less than 100 percent there.”
Also back is Chase Wellner, a senior that Boos said works hard in practice and provides more leadership as a runner who is returning to the program.
The Panther boys also draw experience from a junior class of runners that includes Quin Wetzel, Grant Nickles, Zander Andreasen and Mathew Abraham. All four were out last season.
“Mathew did a lot of running over the summer,” said Boos. “He’s really put in some time to get better and improve. Grant had a breakout year last year and I’m excited to see what he can build on that for this season.”
The Panthers also have a pair of sophomore runners in Ben Wetzel and Billy Baker.
“Billy was out for track last spring and he’s really getting after it in cross country this fall,” said Boos. “Ben is out for the first time as a sophomore, but he’s working hard and early on is showing some good potential.”
On the girls’ side, the Panthers feature two seniors in Brooke Nisley and Tally Wells. It is uncertain, however, whether Nisley will be able to contribute during the season.
“It’s kind of up in the air,” said Boos. “She had the injuries she was still coming back from, but then she got sick over the summer as well. She’s someone who can help us, but at this time I just don’t know.”
More of a known quantity is Wells, who has been one of the Panthers’ most consistent runners in each of the past two seasons. Wells enjoyed a prominent role on the Panthers’ state championship team two years ago and was also one of its top runners last season.
Junior runners for the Panther girls include Sierra Morrow and Carly Klein. Morrow is on the mend from sore knees that inhibited her last track season. Klein is likewise healing from a spring injury, in her case a mishap on the soccer pitch.
“If Sierra gets well, we look for great things from her,” said Boos. “She’s such a sound runner and she improved so much through last season. Carly’s working to build up strength in her knees right now. She’s able to run, but we’ve been taking it easy with her early on.”
Also on the girls’ roster will be sophomores Bailey Sanders and Anne Condie and freshman Daisy Florian.
“Anne and Daisy are both new, and it is nice to have both of them out,” said Boos. “Bailey is a good runner and we look for good things out of her.”
The Panthers open cross country season this Friday in Billings.