With all of the sports options in the fall at Big Foot and Williams Bay high school, it has been hard over the past few years for the Big Foot/Williams Bay cross-country teams to draw enough participants.

This season is no different, with only six boys and four girls involved to start the year.

It is a tough sell to try to convince teenagers to run three or more miles every day. But head coach Tim Collins thinks that the allure of participating in a varsity sport instead of being stuck on the junior varsity bench on another team should be a major draw.

“Half of them aren’t even going to play some days; there’s just too many. They could come out for cross-country and be a varsity letter winner right now,” Collins said.

Despite the low participation numbers, though, things are not all bad for the cross-country co-op. While they will not be contending for team titles, there is plenty of room for individual accolades and improvement.

For the boys team, two of last year’s top three runners are back in seniors Jacob Curtis and Daniel Rees.

Additionally, Collins is excited about a new member of the team: freshman Evan Penniman. While he is only in his first year of high school cross-country, Penniman is looking to be one of the Chiefs’ top runners not only this season, but for years to come.

“There’s no doubt he’ll be under 20 minutes as the season progresses,” Collins said. “It’s nice to have him as a freshman.”

On the girls team, the core of the group is three seniors who have run with the squad for the past couple of seasons: Maya Torrez, Viola Larson and Samantha Eichmann.

With such a senior-heavy squad, it is a gift and a curse for the program. On one hand, with years of experience under their belts, the seniors should be better than they have been in past seasons. On the other hand, when the three girls graduate this spring, next year’s team will only have one returning runner on the roster.

Perhaps a strong showing by the small Big Foot/Williams Bay cross-country crew will help draw the numbers to put them back into better shape for future seasons’ team competitions.