Most valuable honors went to Kayla Kolpitcke and Alan Merritt, most improved to Abby Landwehr and Jayden Yates and most inspirational to Gracen Curtis and Jesse Erickson. The awards were voted on by the team’s runners.
Sophomore Kolpitcke was voted as most valuable for the Lady Panthers, with Merritt voted most valuable for the Panthers.
Head coach Cliff Boos described Kolpitcke as a “runner who went out and got after it and ran right with the competition.”
Kolpitcke wrapped up her season with All-Conference and All-State honors with her fourth place finish at conference and fifth place finish at state.
Merritt also finished the season with All-Conference and All-State honors. The junior took sixth place at conference and eighth at state.
Boos said that Merritt, who competed in several races during the summer, really found himself through experience in running.
“It’s so great to see how much he’s improved through the years,” said Boos.
Boos said that both Kolpitcke and Merritt had “just a super season.”
Landwehr, a freshman, was voted most improved for the Lady Panthers.
“[Landwehr] brought a lot of spirit to our team and a lot of enthusiasm and just really got after it,” said Boos. Based on the improvement she showed this season, it will be fun to watch her continued improvement over the course of the next three years, Boos said.
For the Panthers, Yates was voted most improved.
“He really enjoys the sport and really likes the competition and likes being a part of the team and helping the team,” Boos said of the junior. The coach said one of the things he likes about Yates is that when “he is running a good race, he’s smiling.”
Curtis, a senior who competed in cross country for the first time this season, was voted as most inspirational.
Boos said Curtis, who had battled injuries all season long, “did well and was just a good part of the team.”
Both Boos and assistant coach Ashley Hildebrand said they wished they could have had her all four years.
Meanwhile, Erickson was voted as the Panther’s most inspirational teammate.
Boos described Erickson as providing the “senior leadership a coach hopes to have.”
Erickson would give little motivational speeches before the start of each race for both the Panthers and Lady Panthers.
“Not only was he good for himself, but he is good for the team because he inspires others, encourages them to do well and leads by example,” said Boos. “It’s been really fun to coach him and see how much he’s improved. This year was a super year.”