Edgewood-Colesburg’s 2019 cross country team: front from left, Maddy Streicher, Schyler Meyer, Lily Aulwes, Alex Schmitz and Chloe Weipert; back row, Carson Kirby, Sam Schilling, Zander Carter, Kody Hoeger and Lucas Rezende. Not pictured, Jessica Avianeda.

The Edgewood-Colesburg boys and girls cross country teams aren’t very deep. With only five boys and six girls, head coach Mike Lutgen knows his teams will need to stay healthy and improve during the season.

The boys have no seniors, with Kody Hoeger and Carson Kirby the only juniors. Sophomores Sam Schilling, Zander Carter and Lucas Rezende round out the team.

“The leadership will need to come from younger runners,” Lutgen said. “We will also need a couple of front runners to develop. We will need to stay healthy and we won’t win any tie-breakers since we don’t have a sixth runner.”

Lutgen likes what he sees in the runners he has. “We have talent. I think we are deeper than we have been the last few years. I think we will be able to have our one through five runners finish near each other. This should be the best pack running team we have had. The key is running as a pack near the front. That will be key to our team score.”

Lutgen picks Calamus-Wheatland to be the favorite to win the Tri-Rivers Conference, but also believes Maquoketa Valley can challenge for the title. He also likes the combined team of Starmont/West Central to finish near the top.

As for his team, Lutgen thinks a top half finish is possible. “With our youth, that’s a good area to shoot for. More might be possible but it will be up to how fast we mature, as well as move from running to racing and accepting that we must leave our comfort zones.”

Lutgen’s girls team will be led by senior Lily Aulwes and juniors Jessica Avianeda and Chloe Weipert.

“Our strength is these are great kids that want to work. We have a nice mix of veterans and new runners. The new runners are working hard and getting better every day. If we focus on the end of the season and getting better every day, we could be an OK Class 1A team by the end of the season.”

Finishing out the team are juniors Alex Schmitz and Maddy Streicher, and freshman Schyler Meyer.

“How quickly we get used to racing in varsity competition will be key,” Lutgen explained. “I think our kids will love the challenge of the competition.”

Bellevue Marquette , North Linn and Springville/Central City top Lutgen’s picks to win the conference. He sees his team somewhere in the middle.

“We hope to be in the middle of the pack. We need to develop more depth before we think about getting higher than that. It is possible, but let’s start there for now.”