Freshmen making impact on De Pere cross country teams

Grady Lenn has broken a boys record dating back to 1989

Freshmen making impact on De Pere cross country teams

By Jacqueline Cummings and Lilliana Bristol, Reporters

Freshmen on varsity cross country: nothing special, right? 

Well, what if some freshmen were doing just as well, maybe even better than the upperclassmen? 

Grady Lenn started on boys varsity right away, getting first for De Pere and third overall at the Freedom Irish Waters meet on Aug. 26, against about 115 other runners. With times ranging from 16:47.8 to 16:01.5, Grady has placed 3rd and 2nd in four other meets. 

Lenn has a ranking of 18th best boys runner in the state and 18th best freshman in the nation according to MilesSplit, a subscription-based website. He has also broken the school record with the time of 16:01.5 from the Mishicot Bremser Invitational meet. The now-second fastest time has been held since 1989 with the time of 16:05.0 by Craig Wagner. 

“I think Grady caught on really fast,” said Enoch Thielhelm, a junior captain. “Grady is a really hard worker, and I feel like when you have a hard worker, that merits respect. Everyone immediately respected his talent – he’s incredibly talented – but they respected him as a person because of how hard he was willing to work.” 

Like Grady, Sydney Sturdivant is a freshman on the varsity, although she did not start on varsity until her second meet. 

Her first meet with the high school was the Freedom Irish Meet, and she got 5th place overall as a JV runner. Scoring higher than most of the varsity girls, she then was put on the girls’ varsity team for the next three meets, placing 11th and 24th overall.

Sydney didn’t want to be on varsity in the beginning because of the commitment, so when the coaches came up to her with the news that she made the team, she accepted but was scared about the pressure. 

“I was actually really scared because I did not want to be on varsity because it’s a lot of pressure, and I kind of felt bad ‘taking’ the older kids spots,” Sydney said. “When he told me (about moving to varsity), I was happy because I thought that was kind of cool because I wasn’t trying to do that.”

Thielhelm, asked how he would describe freshmen now compared to when he was a freshman two years ago, said, “The biggest difference is the freshmen we have this year on varsity, there’s less of them but the ones who are really good are absolutely exceptional.”

Hope Dragseth, a DPHS junior, started on varsity as a freshman as well and said it’s a great opportunity to hang out with the upperclassmen and to experience the sport at a more elevated level. 

“I feel like the one thing about cross country is it’s so much about how fast you are and not especially skill,” she said. “If you work really hard, it’s easy to get better really fast.  It’s all about just how much dedication you have.”

De Pere’s next meet is Thurs., Oct. 6, at the Kimberly Invitational.