As Kelsey Rycenga enters her last season for the Montrose High School cross country team, the senior has the chance of becoming a four-time state qualifier.
But with regionals and state more than a month away, Rycenga said her current focus is to be mentally prepared for each meet leading up to the final two competitions.
“You just got to push yourself to the best of your ability,” she said.
Rycenga was one of three MHS runners to go to the competition last season, alongside Megan Motley and Sean Graff.
Although the Indians have only three state qualifiers back, coach Brian Simpson is optimistic that the boys team can qualify for the final competition of the year.
“They have a very good chance of being in that top four ranking,” Simpson said.
To qualify for the state tournament, runners can go by finishing in the top 15 individually at their respective regional meet. Additionally, a team can go if it ends up in the final four.
On the girls’ side, Simpson said he believes Motley and Rycenga will return to the state meet. And sophomore Cassie Yeager has a chance to qualify for the first time, he added.
“It would be wonderful to see her (Yeager) in that top 15,” Simpson said.
Simpson said this year’s roster is filled with new runners. But being new on the team isn’t exclusive to the freshmen, as sophomores and juniors are giving the sport a try.
“They’re learning the system and doing really well,” Simpson said.
His goals aren’t just based on postseason implications. Simpson said his overall objective for his athletes is to run the fastest times they can by the end of the season.
“We have a lot of growing to do but it’s going to be fun to see what the rest of the season holds,” said junior Joshua Simpson, who went to the state tournament as a freshman.
This year’s regional meet will be close to home for Montrose it’ll be on Oct. 18 in Delta.
Rycenga said at the regionals, if she can qualify one last time, that will be a special moment.
“It will mean a lot because it’s my last year,” Rycenga said.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.