MINSTER — Minster coach Jessie Magoto puts herself through grueling runs daily. It’s a way to bond with her girls cross country team and experience what she asks of her team.
“I don’t perform like they do,” Magoto said, laughing.
She’s not alone. The past three seasons few teams have kept up with Minster. The Wildcats enter this season as the three-time defending state champions in Division III. A solid core returns again, including all-Ohio runners Gwen Meiring and McKenzie Bowman, both seniors, and junior Ella Boat.
But, just like past seasons, the Wildcats’ focus is not on state championships. It’s on camaraderie.
“You judge your season based on the personality of the kids,” Magoto said. “These girls put in the work. They’re super dedicated and super disciplined, same as the past, but maybe because they’re coming off three state championships we’ve stressed more than ever not to have that as the focus.
“I know I say it every year but the more I coach the more I focus on experience, the process and doing things the right way.”
Also back for Minster is junior Mason Pohl, giving the Wildcats four runners from last season’s state team. Minster won the D-III title with 46 points to top runner-up Fort Loramie’s 134. Boat finished 10th at state, Meiring 11th, Bowman 17th and Pohl 45th.
Senior Rachel Kitzmiller and sophomore Emma Meyer are among those in contention for the No. 5 position.
“We have a smaller group just from smaller numbers from junior high,” Magoto said. “But it makes for a really tight-knit group. The girls care about each other. They care about personal success of each person’s journey. Together they are maximizing their potential.”
Minster has also won six straight Midwest Athletic Conference titles and 30 overall. Led by the seniors, the Wildcats continue to be in the running to extend that streak.
“This is a good balance of seriousness but they know when to laugh and have fun,” Magoto said of Meiring, Bowman and Kitzmiller. “They know what’s expected as far as work ethic and character. Everything we’ve asked they’ve responded. I couldn’t be happier with the way they carry themselves and lead our team.”
Minster’s boys return four of their top six runners and seven letterwinners overall from last year. The Wildcats finished first in the MAC meet a year ago and finished second in the Division III district meet at Ottawa.
“The seniors and last year’s letterwinners are hungry for more success and are learning their new roles on the team,” coach Larry Topp said.
Seniors Luke Barga and Austin Felice, junior Brock Schulte and sophomores Alex Albers and Joseph Slonkosky helped the Wildcats to their second straight MAC title and 11th overall.
Juniors Joel Berelsman and Mathew Droesch and freshman Noah Walter are among those competing for a spot in the top seven.
“The team has high expectations for this season and with the hard work that they have been putting in they just might reach their goals,” Topp said. “There will be many obstacles in their way but we hope to see them through to the team’s goals.”
Topp said he expects a challenge for the squad to win the MAC again.
“Parkway, Coldwater, St. Henry and Versailles look to be at the top of the league,” Topp said. “Parkway is the early favorite, with a big chunk of their roster returning. We will be working hard and hope to overcome the losses to graduation and be in the league mix.”