Overnight stay is a tradition at Plymouth

by Dave Boehler
Review Sports Editor

Running can be done anywhere, so Plymouth cross country coach Jay Grosshuesch takes advantage of it.

“I think the neat thing about our sport is we don’t need a 100- yard field like football. We don’t have to be on a court,” said Grosshuesch, who enters his 30th year at the helm. “We can pretty much practice anywhere.”

So for the 10th year in a row, the Panthers took a bus Tuesday morning to High Cliff State Park, located on Lake Winnebago near Sherwood.

Each athlete in the program camps overnight, although several years ago Grosshuesch and his staff was not as organized as they are now. They spent a lot of time moving runners from one spot to another.

“So I had a bunch of kids in my van, like way too many, and the park ranger/police guy pulled us over,” Grosshuesch said. “He didn’t give me a ticket but he was not happy with me at all because our kids were sitting out of the back of the van. The kids remind me of that one all the time.”

Senior Lauren Rabe just completed her fourth trip and remembers how rain affected their sleep last year.

“We brought my crappy tent and all the water soaked in on us,” Rabe said. “Someone was sleeping the opposite way from all of us because she said it was comfier, and the rain got in her pillow and hair when we woke up. We all slept in the rain but she laid on the side where all the water came in. All of her blankets and pillows got flooded with water.”

Rangers and rain aside, Plymouth takes the tip to run on the trails, participate in team-building games, learn about running form, set individual and team goals and then end the night with a campfire.

The Panthers wake up, run again and play more games and return home by noon.

“It’s been a really positive thing for our team,” Grosshuesch said. “I think it really helps bring our kids together and they get to know each other in different ways. It’s something they seem to really look forward to.”

The Plymouth girls are looking forward to another trip to state. They reach the Division 2 meet last year for the third season in a row, and they have also won the East Central Conference championship the last two times.

Although the Panthers’ top runner at state, Ellie Welsch (50th place), graduated, five key girls return.

Rabe leads the way after she finished a team-best fourth in the conference meet. Sophomore Maggie Munson placed ninth, sophomore Lily LaPorte ended in 15th and senior Izzy Kastelic finished 28th. Senior Amanda Triebensee also ran for the team at state.

Plymouth’s boys finished third at conference after taking second in 2016.

Fifth-place finisher Gabe Olsen graduated, but senior Charlie Waitkus (8th), junior Joe Mertes (26th), senior Max Hassel (31st), junior Andrew Steinhardt (34th) and junior Riley Huibregtse (37th) are all back.

“We’re expecting a good season out of (Waitkus),” Grosshuesch said. “This is his fourth season with us and he’s gotten better every year. So we really think we can hopefully continue that progression. Max Hassel worked really hard this summer. I think he can be right in there as well.”

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