Girls Cross-Country: Consistency a key for Warrior girls

The return of Lily Schaeffer should help a young Brainerd Warriors team take the next step toward success.

Abby Johnson, (left), Emily Bastien, Payton Lillo, Katelyn Kennedy, Maddie Miller, Abby Cherne, Lily Schaeffer, Julia Rademacher, Emma Storbakken, Annie Geary and Bridget Collins train near Adamson Field recently for the upcoming season. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Freshman Bridget Collins enjoyed a breakout season last year for the Brainerd Warriors and hopes to build on that success.

And she’ll have a number of teammates that will hope to join her, including a return to action from Lily Schaeffer, who is coming back to cross-country after playing two years of soccer.

Schaeffer is the lone Warrior with state meet experience, which she gained as a seventh and eighth-grader.

“She had some health issues, but decided to come back with us,” Herath said. “She’s just a great kid and a great runner who will help out our program.

“She and I talked quite a bit before she came back and she’s not a little scrawny eighth-grader anymore. She’s a strong, mature girl. I think she’s stopped growing which is good because she had a lot of pain issues because she was growing as much as she did. She was concerned, but she’s been training all summer.


“She’s just a tough competitor. If you’ve seen her in Nordic skiing and track, she just puts it out there. She’ll be fine and that’s what we told her. We aren’t comparing her to the eighth-grade Lily. We’re comparing her to a junior Lily and junior Lily is a pretty tough kid and a good runner.”

Collins earned All-Central Lakes Conference honors last year with her 14th-place time of 19:52.6. That paced the Warriors to fifth place as a team. In the Section 8-2A meet, she finished 28th with a 20:01.01.

“She was a kid, every meet and every practice, learned something new and applied it to her next race,” Herath said. “Her confidence is growing from a really successful season last year. I’m sure she’s setting her goals higher and higher this year.”

Emma Storbakken also returns from the section and conference meet where she was 75th and 45th respectively

“She had a great summer of training and is looking very strong.” Herath said. “She’s a senior who has been with us for four years now. I’m expecting she’ll have a great year.”

Herath said his biggest surprise has been the improvement of Katelyn Kennedy. She ran to an 86th-place finish in the section meet last year.

“She’s really doing a great job so far and has looked so much stronger,” Herath said. “She’s a sophomore and last year was a big learning year. She has looked really good in practices.”

Erin Hoelzel will make her cross-country debut this year.


“I really like having seniors come out, I just wish they’d come out as freshman,” Herath said. “She’s looked all summer. She’s a very good track runner and a very good downhill skier. But she will add a lot to this team.”

Also adding a lot is the addition of marathon standout Casey Miller to the coaching roster.

“Carl (Schirmer) has retired so we brought in Casey Miller,” said Herath. “I could never run with the top groups and Casey can and Brady can, too, for that matter. Having those two around has really added a dynamic to the team. They have a little better pulse on what is happening within a practice and the ebbs and flows of a longer run.”

While the Warriors will start the season as usual with the Sept. 4 Run for the Melon event at Forestview, Brainerd will get an additional home event Sept. 15.

“We currently have six meets on our schedule,” Herath said. “That’s shorter, but it’s one meet a week so it’s really not that different, but where we are going is certainly different. All of our meets are triangulars. It looks like we have one dual meet and I don’t know if we’ve ever had that small. Most of the time our small meet for us is seven teams. That adds a little wrinkle, but it may be a fun thing for us.”

Fun and consistency will be the keys for the Warrior girls.

“We have a pretty strong group of younger runners mixed in with some new kids,” Herath said. “I’d like to see some consistency and they’re getting there. This is a group that is learning to be consistent in their practices and hopefully in their meets so they can keep getting better and better.”


JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Girls rosters: Emly Bastian, Abigail Cherne, Bridget Collins, Abigail Dahl, Annika Gearey, Erin Hoelzel, Abby Johnson, Katelyn Kennedy, Payton Lillo, Jaden Plante, Julia Rademacher, Liliana Schaeffer, Sara Schiller, Alyssa Schommer, Anja Storbakken, Emma Storbakken.

Cross country running

Head coach: Dave Herath, 28th season

2019 girls finish: 5th in CLC, 10th in Section 8-2A

2019 boys finish: 5th in CLC, 7th in Section 8-2A


Returning state participant: Ethan Klisch

Assistant coaches: Owen Trout, Casey Miller

Volunteer assistant: Brady Rutman

Herath, Dave.jpg
Dave Herath

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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