The Heartland Lutheran cross country teams enter the season with small numbers.

The Red Hornets have only five runners total out for the sport, which includes four boys and one girl.

“We have such a small crew that we’ll be focusing a lot on individual goals,” first-year coach Lynn Rathjen said. “But we do have runners that have been working hard and have been training well for us.”

The Red Hornets return Josh Rathjen, Lynn’s grandson, and Christian Wiegert, who placed high in a number of meets last year. The two didn’t qualify for the state cross country meet, but do have state experience as both qualified in the 1,600 at the state track meet last spring.

“They were just a few places off to qualify last year,” coach Rathjen said. “Their goals is to get down to Kearney and compete at state this year.”

The other Red Hornet runners returning include Cory Ruybalid and Nate Jones, who are both returning letterwinners.

“Cory had an excellent track season last spring. He was part of that 3,200 relay team that just missed qualifying,” Rathjen said. “He’s completed a summer conditioning program and should contend for placing in meets this fall. And Nate looks to be improved in his second year of cross country.”

Joanna Stauss is the only Heartland Lutheran girl competing this year.

Rathjen said he hopes he sees improvements throughout the course of the season.

“Individual improvements in our runners with their efforts to attain team goals will determine our success this season,” Rathjen said.

Heartland Lutheran begins their season at the Northwest Invite on Friday.

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