It will be a new coaching tandem for the cross-country team this season.
Tim Gipper, who had been an assistant to Lynn Ahlgrim, moves up to head coach. His assistant will be a familiar face, his wife Lori Gipper.
Tim has been in the local school system since 1986, taking his first job out of college at Mt. Morris. It was there he met Lori and the two have been together ever since.
Lori has a long history of cross country, even running with the boys team when she was at Forreston. Tim’s background was in football, having played college ball at the University of North Iowa.
“That’s how I got hired at Mt. Morris, as an assistant football coach, head wrestling and assistant track,” Tim Gipper said.
Both Gippers have plenty experience with running, having served as junior-high track coaches, even proving a husband-wife tandem can be very effective.
The Gippers have inherited a program that has serious problems with numbers.
“At the end of the school year, we had four kids,” Gipper said. “Now, we’re up to 13 kids and they’re an awesome. They work hard.”
Gipper realizes what he’s up against with soccer and golf in full bloom at the high school level.
“When Oregon was in its heyday in cross country, there wasn’t soccer and golf didn’t have big numbers yet,” Gipper said. “Our goal is to get all three sports working together.”
Leading the way for the boys is 4-year runner Jacob Harshman. Another leader is junior Jacob Ebens.
“Those two have done the most to encourage the others to run this summer,” Gipper said.
The top new prospect is freshman Ian Hussing, who ran all summer. He is expected to be No. 2 behind Harshman. Gippers sees Jordan Wilkins as the No. 3 guy.
“He looks more like a football player, but boy can he run,” Gipper said.
Ebens and Will Coots are both improved from last year and will be counted on also to be scorers. Senior Noah Wade, has yet to be cleared to compete, but has come out to get in shape for the National Guard. Richard Bower is another prospect.
Converted volleyball player Kelsey Handschuh looks to be the top girl runner. The lone returner is sophomore Rosie Sarantakos. Junior Zoe Nelson is out for the first time.
Abby Newman, who is recovering from an ankle injury, is out to get in shape for basketball. Soledad Silva made the switch from cheerleading to cross country and Mayra Nava-Moyotl is out to stay in shape for track.
“You got to have a reason to be out,” Gipper said. “My goal is for personal bests for everyone.”
The team opens its season Aug. 26 at Rock Falls. The first home meet is Saturday, Sept. 6 at Park West.