The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s and women’s cross country teams have placed in the top five each of the first three invitationals this season. The team credits hard work and a team bonds for their early success.
Junior men’s team runner Alex Egbert outlined team unity as a key strength.
“I would say we’re a pretty close team. We’re all really good friends with each other so we can help push each other on the field and off the field,” said Egbert.
Sophomore men’s team runner Matt Stelmasek echoed Egbert’s statement.
“We all share the same mindset. We want to make it to nationals and just be the best team that we can be,” said Stelmasek.
Stelmasek has a pair of top 25 finishes, while Egbert has finished in the top ten twice in invitationals this season.
For the women’s team, Kara Hoier, Emily Schlebecker and Bailey Wolf have been a formidable trio for the Pointers.
The trio were crucial members of the team that helped the women take first place at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational in Rock Island, IL. Schlebecker took third, while Hoier and Wolf took fourth and fifth respectively.
Cross country head coach Brett Witt has been pleased with the results of the three women so far.
“It’s really a luxury to have three young ladies that can run so close together,” said Witt.
Hoier, a senior, noted that the offseason training with Schlebecker and Wolf has helped improve herself and the team.
“This has probably been one of the best season’s I’ve ever had by far, so far, starting off,” said Hoier.
“We’ve all been running very well.”
Witt acknowledged that the team is young and inexperienced overall but the goals for the team remain the same.
“We always want to be in the upper echelon of teams in the WIAC,” said Witt. “If we can continue to progress and get to a point where trying to get one or both teams to the national championships becomes feasible, that would certainly be something that we’d like to try to do.”
Wolf, a sophomore, sees her youth on the team as a strength.
“Just being one of the younger girls on the team, I can be a leader for girls that are my age,” said Wolf.
With the team growing and becoming more cohesive as a unit throughout the offseason and into the early part of their schedule, success has come early and it may come often in the near future.