Larson and Chung

Happy trails – The defending NBL Redwood Division Windsor cross country team will be led by talented veterans Hunter Larson and Lilja Chung. Photos Michael Lucid

Windsor out to defend NBL title

The fate of a cross country team is seldom determined in the chill of November, but rather with the sweat and sacrifice put in during the dogs days of August.

The Jaguars are out to prove this theory true again as they take on the challenging back roads and trails that make up the fall season.

Ten-year veteran Pete Stefanisko has handed the coaching reins to Brandon Bronzan (also the track coach) and the new head man made no attempt to hide his enthusiasm for the 2019 campaign.

"I'm really excited about the upcoming season," Bronzan reported. "Our boys and girls both won the North Bay League Redwood Division titles last year and we have the talent to contend again."

While the boys team graduated one of the best in school history in Lucas Chung, they still return two of the top three runners from last season. Heading the list of returnees are senior Hunter Larson and sophomore Dustin Smith. Other talented returnees (in no particular order) are junior Landon McAlister, senior Steven Vail, junior Ben Kvamme, sophomore Valentino Bugica, senior Ajany Martinez and sophomores Tallen Theiss and Kevin Manni.    

“Both Hunter and Dustin had a great track season, so I expect them to be among the top runners in the Redwood Division and Landon isn’t far behind,” Bronzan predicted. “After that it's going to be exciting to see who steps up.”

The varsity girls team may be the envy of the North Bay, returning all five of their top runners from last year’s championship squad. The team will be led by sophomore Lilja Chung, a state qualifier that should pick up where her big brother left off. She’ll be joined by seniors Erin O’Mara and Jayda Pignataro, junior Nataleigh Johnson and senior Ava Smith. 

“We're in a very enviable position on the girls side,” Bronzan said. “Not many league champions return their top five runners. Lilja, Erin and Jayda, in particular, are our program's mileage leaders this summer, so I'm excited to see how that pays off for them in the early parts of the season.” 

Although the obvious goal is to repeat as NBL champions, the Windsor brain trust is taking a big picture approach.  

“One of my goals for this season is to grow our roster size, especially on the girls side,” Bronzan noted. “We're a flu bug away from not having enough runners to score, so finding that next wave will be crucial to our success.”  

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