In a high school sports universe where winning reigns increasingly supreme, coach Rebecca Hofer embraces more of the little league mentality.
“My main goal is for everyone to have fun, and get better as the season goes along,” she said.
The mentality is infectious, it seems.
Twenty-one runners, including four middle school participants, will join Hofer’s roster this year, allowing Marion High School to field complete boys’ and girls’ teams for the first time in a few years.
After not being able to field the five runners necessary for a team, Hofer has nine boys’ runners this year, one more than the eight she has for girls’ cross-country.
Several runners came over from the football team, including Colin Williams, who had a strong campaign in distance runs for track and field in the spring. Hofer regards Williams as the team’s strongest runner.
She said it’s the first time in a while the boys team — albeit one with no seniors — may be able to qualify for state.
“All of them are pretty strong runners,” she said. “I’m really excited to see what they do as a team.”
For the girls, senior McKenzee Remmers looks to finish her high school career on a high note this season. A cramp at last year’s state meet led to a disappointing finish.
That same disappointment very well may have fueled what was a productive summer.
“McKenzee’s gonna be really good this year,” Hofer said. “She’s put in a lot of miles this summer, sometimes running twice a day. Her goal is to qualify top 10 at state this year, and I think she can do it.”
Remmers along with Sam Fugitt and Shyla Harris are the senior class for the Warriors.
The girls will have further to run, at least in their postseason trials, as KSHSAA switched its policy on race length from three-kilometer races for girls to 5Ks.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Hofer said. “A lot of the girls don’t like it because they have to race farther, but they’ll get in shape and they’ll be OK.”