Veteran leadership is the strength of the Sturgis Brown High School cross country teams for the 2019 season.
The Scoopers return with two senior lettermen in Nate Andersen and Blane Breth, juniors Brady Buchholz and Taylor Tobias and sophomore Ray Henderson.
Andersen and Buchholz both competed at three State AA meets. Tobias is a two-time State qualifier. Breth and Henderson ran in the 2018 State event.
Newcomers include juniors Traeton Monahan and Logan Desersa and freshmen Kain Peters, Connor Lurz, Beck Bruch and Deron Graf.
Lost to graduation were Ethan Brenneman, Alec Keffeler, Taylor Opstedahl and Tanner Geil.
Brenneman is running cross country and track and field at Iowa Western Community College. Keffeler competes in track and field at Indiana Wesleyan. Opstedahl is a member of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology track and field team.
Blake Proefrock returns as head coach at Sturgis Brown.
"I am really excited about the season," he said. "We have a good group of kids."
Leadership is a strong point. "A couple of returning kids know the ropes. We have four really solid freshmen," he said.
Returning letter winners for the girls team are juniors Josie Kaufman, Jade Breidenbach and Haley Ferguson, and sophomore Jessica Matthew.
Breidenbach is a three-time state meet participant. Kaufman and Matthew have each qualified for two State meets, with Ferguson participating in one meet.
Newcomers include senior Breezy Paul, junior Trinity Legner and ninth-grader Madeleine Lowe.
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"We need to continue to work hard every day, close the gaps within the team and run as a pack," Proefrock said. "We're few in numbers."
As with the boys team, veteran leadership is a strength on the girls side of the roster.
"Breezy Paul has a great work ethic. They are a solid group to right the ship," Proefrock said.
Belle Fourche hosts the Black Hills Conference meet October 10.
Proefrock listed Custer as both the boys and girls team favorites.
"St. Thomas More boys are improved. Hill City girls are going to be good. Abby Cutler is the best girls runner in the BHC. Spearfish has more girls out," he said.
Broadland Creek Golf Course in Huron will host the State AA meet Oct. 26.
Sioux Falls Lincoln is the team favorite in both divisions.
"Rapid City Stevens boys will be in there," said Proefrock.
"I think we have an outside chance of placing in the top six. Rapid City Stevens and Rapid City Central girls will be contenders," he said.
Sturgis Brown harriers race in the Belle Fourche Invitational today and Nike Heartland Preview at Yankton Trails Park in Sioux Falls Saturday.
The Scoopers host their only home meet October 3 at the Fort Meade Course.