Maria Kruse became Beckman’s first freshman state cross country qualifier.

It was a good year for the Beckman girls’ cross country program. Not only did the Blazers have the first-ever medal winner at the state meet (10th) in freshman Maria Kruse, they also set four top-10 individual times.

“I don’t think we’ve had that many in my four years,” said coach Tyson Squiers. “I think that shows how much we are improving from year to year. Maria’s 10th place finish is undoubtedly a highlight of the season. Just qualifying was a feat in itself. Her performance becoming a school record and our first state medalist was huge. On top of that, with all the uncertainty leading up this season with Covid, I think a highlight is the fact that we got to have a full season at all.”

The team graduates two seniors in Isabelle Kluesner and Savanah Oberbroeckling. “Isabelle is a six-year runner for us and is always working to be the best she can be. She is always very focused on her goals but takes the time to be a positive influence on her teammates. Savanah is also a six-year runner, has a great work ethic and an even better success story to go with it. She’s the poster child for not giving up when something is difficult. Her improvements over the past four years have been amazing.

“All of the seniors have made a lasting impact on our underclassmen as well as our program. This group was my first group of freshmen when I began coaching at Beckman and I truly appreciate the dedication they’ve put into our team as well as the trust they put in me. I will miss this group very much. They are a great group of kids who have such positive attitudes. I have no doubt they will all excel in whatever they choose to do in the next chapter of their lives.”

Squiers added, “There was definitely a lot of improvement this season, not only just from the past year, but throughout the season as well. Many of the runners improved by over a minute from their previous best and consistently improved from meet to meet. Another big improvement was our team cohesion. It seemed as though everyone was always on the same page and working toward the same goals. That’s what we need to be successful.

“The future is very bright. Even though we are losing a big part of our team in the seniors, we have young talent on both sides. Despite all the hurdles we had to jump this season, I think we may have gained some interest from students not in another fall sport. With the small numbers we have, it would be great to have a few more runners on each side. We also have some talented eighth-grade students coming up that will be contributors next season, possibly even on the varsity stage. There is definitely still room to improve as well. Our summers could be a little stronger as a whole but we are getting a little better each year. I have things in mind that I would like to change and build upon to hopefully keep advancing our program.

“This was definitely a unique season for any fall sport and we were no exception. We’re so thankful we got to have a full season and we took advantage of the time we had. it felt as though we were always on borrowed time in a way, so I kept reminding them to “run like it’s our last race” because, in all honesty, any of them could have been. We appreciate the support from parents, community members and fellow students so much. It was amazing this year.”

Individual best times for each runner: Kruse 20:02; Abby Knepper 22:06; Kluesner 23:57; Ellie Recker 24:21; Kennedy Recker 24:24; Sydney Reiter 24:34; Savanah Oberbroeckling 25:48; and Jordan Thier 26:43.