ETV News stock photo by Jeff Barrett
The Panthers will have many familiar faces with six boys and three girls returning to run. They also bolster an experienced squad as six of those nine are coming back as seniors.
“We’re going to do pretty well,” said head coach Mark Stuckenschneider. “In our region, our toughest competition is going to be Monticello. They always have a really strong cross country and track program, but I think for the most part, we’ll be able to hang with them.”
Stuckenschneider continued, “I have one of the strongest boys in 1A, Jonathan Kessler.” Kessler has been attracting attention, not just from competitors, but from colleges as well. His goal for the season is to put down a sub-17-minute race, which would be a new personal record.
Stuckenschneider believes that having a guy like Kessler on the team increases everyone’s potential. “On the boys’ team, one of our biggest strengths is, because I do have one of the faster runners in 1A, the other boys are always trying to compete with him. There’s healthy competition. They really encourage each other to do the best they can,” explained Stuckenschneider. “The girls are also really supportive of each other. That will be their strength for this year.”
It seems like things are finally getting back to normal after COVID-19 for cross country. There are many meets to choose from and teams around the state are filling out once more. While it is always the Panthers’ goal to win the region, they know they have stiff competition with Monticello. In the short term, Pinnacle is just excited for the chance to showcase its abilities and have a full schedule. “We’re just really looking forward to it,” concluded Stuckenschneider.