Mehlville girls look for ‘breakout season’

Mehlville High girls looking to make some strides in ’13

By Robert Chalupny

Expectations are high for the 2013 Mehl-ville Senior High School girls’ cross country team, according to its new coach.

Mark Ehlen is the new head coach for the Panthers, and being with the program for some time, he knows what could be on the horizon.

“My expectation with the girls is that there’s a real nice balance of experience and youth with that group, and I expect this to be their breakout season,” he told the Call. “We have a dedicated group of girls.”

The reason for the optimism stems from a solid returning core of runners.

“I have all three girls that qualified for sectionals back, so they’ll lead the way with the other girls,” Ehlen said.

Senior Kenzi Giorgi, sophomore Elaina Hubbell and junior Gwen Werner should fill the top three slots, helping the Panthers be competitive in every race. But Ehlen said he needs to make sure he can decrease the gap between his first- and eighth-place runners to be competitive as a team.

“My goal is to make it to sectionals as a team this year,” he said. “The opportunity is finding that sixth, seventh and eighth person.”

For this team, their strength is going to be experience, according to the coach.

“Experience is a strength for the girls. They have at least half of the varsity group that has been to sectionals, so they know what it takes to get there,” he said. “The other strength that they have is camaraderie, teamwork and commitment that I see in the girls right now.”

With the talent that he has on hand, Ehlen plans to get the most out of it.

“They should be good the next couple of years,” he said. “The most important thing is to keep them healthy and keep them enthused, and that’s just going to help for the future.”