Her whole life, Amber Seidenkranz has had someone to chase after. Her older sister Erica always set the pace for her, especially on race day.
This year, with the older Seidenkranz departed to run at college, Amber has to either find someone else to chase, or adjust to leading the way for the Magic cross country girls.
Last Thursday at the Monticello Invitational, Seidenkranz did both.
Noelle Olson, a standout senior from Big Lake, gave Seidenkranz someone to chase. And so she did.
“It kind of reminds me of Erica,” admitted the younger Seidenkranz after the race. “It gave me something to push for.”
And while she didn’t catch Olson, who won the meet in a blazing 14:26, it did push Seidenkranz to a second-place finish and a time (14:54) that was 40 seconds better than the one she ran in the season opening meet the week prior.
“I was a little upset with last week, but I decided I was just going to do better this week,” she said. “I felt better. I think I came more mentally prepared than last week.”
In the first meet, she finished third among Magic runners. Thursday she was back out leading the way for the
Monticello girls, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Mariah Betzler (5th place) and 15 seconds ahead of Brooke Rasmussen (6th place).
The pace that the girls ran not only gave them a relatively easy meet victory, outscoring second-place Marshall 42-64, it also kept the Magic’s top three runners ahead of the pace set by the outstanding top three from last year’s state championship season.
Those three, along with Krista Steele (10th, 16:02) will be counted on to be consistently great if the Magic are going to have any chance at again being among the state’s best.
Coach Gail Grieme thinks they’re capable.
“All four of them are going to have fantastic seasons,” said Grieme. “They all put in a tremendous amount of work this summer and they deserve all the good that will happen.”
But as good as the returning state tournament runners can be, and expect to be, they will still need continued help from what is currently a rotating cast of characters filling out the lineup.
Thursday, fifth place for the Magic belonged to Alex Revenig. Her time of 16:44 put the freshman in 19th place overall at the meet. When able, Revenig is expected to provide a big boost to the Magic lineup. However, she is playing two fall sports, with tennis (where she is the top singles player) taking precedence. She will miss a handful of meets this fall, meaning other girls will have to step up and fill the fifth spot.
Two of the top candidates are Anna Fasen and Alexa Yeager. Fasen, a ninth-grader, finished 22 at the meet Thursday, running a time of 16:51. Yeager is only an eighth grader, and she wound up in 31st place with a time of 17:05.
After those two, the Magic have a couple of young JV runners making strong impressions, as well as a couple of seniors who are still competing meet in and meet out for one of the final spots on the varsity team.
“Every day they’re improving in practice,” said Grieme of her young girls. “I’m just thoroughly impressed with them. We need them at the top of their game by the end of October.”
At the end of October comes sections and then state. For a Magic program that has grown accustomed to the big stage, that time of the year tends to outweigh everything else.
The early season meets are still important. Winning their home invite for the fifth year in a row was joyful on its own. But, it’s also a cheerful occasion because it shows just how capable the young Magic talent is of nearing last year’s championship finish.
“I think we can be pretty close to where we were last year,” said Seidenkranz. “We lost a lot of key people, like Erica, Corinne [Steele] and Amber [Stoick], but we have a lot of younger girls that are stepping up to the plate and getting better as the season goes on.”
And on Thursday it looked like, in Amber, those young girls will have someone to chase. And in the Magic, teams across the conference, section and state, may still have some chasing to do as well.