EAU CLAIRE -- With fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively, at the 2019 Husky Invitational Saturday, the boys and girls from the New Richmond cross-country teams showed they are ready to be an impact team this fall.

The Tiger boys were outstanding in Saturday’s meet. This was a who’s who of top teams from western Wisconsin. The Tigers finished behind three teams that all have hopes of advancing to state in River Falls, La Crosse Logan and Eau Claire Memorial. By finishing fourth, the Tigers were able to top such quality teams as Hudson and Osceola.

This was the Tigers’ opening meet of the season, starting a week later than in most seasons. Longtime New Richmond coach Beth Kelly said the boys were anxious to show how much they’ve improved since last season.

“This group of boys has changed the culture of distance running,” Kelly said. She said this transformation began with 2019 graduate Max Fore and the current Tigers last year and the dedication to diet and training has led to major changes. “They’ve put in the most mileage of any group since I began coaching. They deserved this,” Kelly said.

The trio of juniors Cale Bishop, Tyler Harris and Max Blader led the transformation, with this pack all finishing between ninth and 14th. Senior Landon Carney was the fourth Tiger to finish, in 32nd. Sophomore Jacob Doehrmann was the fifth Tiger, placing 45th.

Kelly listed off some staggering numbers in terms of improvement of the boys. Many of them ran times two minutes or more better than at this race last year. Nearly every boy ran a personal best time, again most by one or two minutes faster.

Eddie Noyes and Noah Hughes were the sixth and seventh runners. Kelly said there will be active competition for these final two spots, with Chase Chairle and Noah Herron running the best among the junior varsity runners on Saturday.

There were some good things from the Tiger girls on Saturday, too, but the team didn’t have a full roster. That made it tough to gauge where the team stands, Kelly said.

The Tiger girls are like the rest of the top Middle Border Conference teams, in the regard they have freshmen who will make a big impact on the season. That was seen Saturday, Ceanna Dietz and Anna Fitzgerald were the top two finishers for the Tigers. The freshmen ran together, placing 21st and 22nd. Juniors Kayla Harris and Willa Rogers were 25th and 35th and senior Colette Harrold ran 42nd. Freshmen Mariah Russell and Grace Gustafson were the team’s sixth and seventh runners.

The Tigers will be back in action Sept. 12, running in the Somerset Invitational. Somerset is the site for this year’s conference meet and this race will give the Tigers a chance to see most of their MBC competition.