New Coach? No Problem

The Women’s Cross-Country team is off to a hot start, led by a new head coach.

Coach Brad Peterson was hired back in April of 2022.

Coach Brad Peterson was hired back in April of 2022.

Two State Championships in track and field, Sectional and Regional titles at three different schools, and three individual State Champions in cross-country. On paper, newly hired Women’s Cross-Country Coach Mr. Brad Peterson seemed like the right choice. Having been a track and field and cross-country coach for over 15 years at three different high schools, Fort Wayne Concordia, Fort Wayne Northrop, and Angola, Peterson racked up his fair share of accolades. But this summer, he entered a new environment on The Hill. 

Peterson inherited a team coming off of an up and down 2021 season, headlined by a second place finish in the City Meet. That team did not advance past the Sectional meet, but had five runners advance to the  Regional meet individually. This gave the team a strong core coming into this season, as junior Lucy Marquart, senior Dearbhla Delaney and senior Brooke Wojcieszek are all “back after finishing in the top 75 at last year’s Regional meet. 

Peterson believes that the returning leadership of these runners with postseason experience has been an asset to the team so far. He said, “(Marquart, Delaney and Wojcieszek) have been great leaders, in addition to senior Grace Bragg and newcomer (sophomore) Addie Stanley from Kansas and (junior) Tess Wojtalik as well.”

The team competed in its first meet on Aug. 20 at the Plainfield Hokum Karem Invitational, and took first place both individually and as a team. The pairing of Marquart and Bragg took first place overall, and Delaney and Wojtalik took eighth. Those two top ten finishes proved to be just enough, as the team snuck by to win the meet by a single point. Peterson was pleased with the team’s performance to begin the season, noting the team goals that were achieved. He said, “We had a goal setting meeting on Friday (Aug. 19) and all of (the runners) literally were exactly where their goals stated they should be.” 

But the team’s success did not stop there, as it continued into their next meet, the Franklin Community Invitational on Aug. 27, where the team took second place. Marquart once again finished in the top ten, taking seventh, and Stanley took 14th to lead the team. 

Peterson hopes to continue this success not just through the regular season, but into the postseason as well. He said, “Our goals this year are all for October. We would like to get to Semistate as a team and put ourselves in position to qualify for state as a team.” Peterson also mentioned his high expectations for some individual runners, stating that he expects multiple runners to advance to State individually. 

But for now, the team is on a roll, and getting better with time. Peterson said, “I think their confidence is strong and they are seeing the hard work (from) over the summer pay dividends.”