With the return of Fillmore Central runners to the Lanesboro co-op cross-country teams (both boys' and girls'), 19 athletes will suit up this year for L/FC. That's great news for all of those involved.

"We are very excited by the number of kids out this year," sixth-year cross-country coach Ellen Cullen reported last week. "We should (now) be able to compete as a team in both the boys and girls races.

"Numbers are a big plus this year and the kids have great attitudes and are willing to work hard in practice. Many of the junior high kids will voluntarily do the varsity workouts even when they have the option of doing a shorter workout."

Cullen looks after both the boys' and girl' teams as head coach, and is assisted by husband Joe Cullen, who's in his second year with the program.

Returning letter winners include Lanesboro senior Heather Boyum, juniors Matthew Kiehne and Travis Troendle, and sophomore Nathan Eversole. Another runner to watch is freshman Kiera Olson of Fillmore Central, who takes to the hills of cross country for the first time this year. She had an outstanding track season last spring, just missing the cut to the state tournament at 3200 meters.

"The girls' team could use a few more runners," Ellen Cullen noted. "If anybody gets injured it could be quite detrimental to the team scoring."

Boyum is the only senior. Rosie Jones of LHS and Cami Jones of FC will join Kiehne and Troendle as representatives of the junior class. Eversole is the only sophomore, but five freshmen are set to go. That number includes Kiera and Casey Olson of FC, Leah Ruen of LHS, and FC runners Michael Harrison and William Nolan. Aaron Eversole of Lanesboro is the only eighth-grader, while seven boys and girls from seventh grade are eager to take on the courses. They include Jamie Rein, Emily Snyder, and Jared Reinhardt of Lanesboro, and Joey Lange, Jay Bissen, Daniel Erickson and Travis Sexton of Fillmore Central.

The inaugural meet for both the boys' and girls' teams takes place at Bear Creek Park on Thursday, Aug. 29, as the reconstituted L/FC teams compete in the massive Stewartville Invitational.