Freshman Abbey Nechanicky Leads Persistent Girls XC Team Towards Postseason


Abbey Neckanicky pounds the last 100 meters to claim the top spot in the Girls Lake Conference Championship race.

Diane Meyer, Staff Writer

At the beginning of the season, the Wayzata girls cross country team was ranked first in the state in a coaches poll with senior stud runners Emma Atkinson, Caroline Sassan, and Rhynn Paulsen expected to lead the Trojans after quality finishes at state last year.

Caroline Sassan runs strong down the final stretch to the finish at the Lake Conference Championships race.

With all three struggling with injuries or illness, the Trojans are working hard to maintain their success.

Freshman Abbey Nechanicky has since found herself in the spotlight. She finished 10th last year at state, and was ranked second in the coaches’ poll this season. Nechanicky won the Milaca Mega Meet, placed 4th at the Roy Griak Invitational, and is currently the fastest Wayzata runner. “I’m never really nervous,” Nechanicky said. “I’m just really excited and relaxed. I try to help my teammates not be nervous either.”

The team has done well in recent races, placing 2nd at Milaca and 5th at Roy Griak. This is a testament to the team’s depth. Wayzata boasts a growing dynasty year after year, and is a consistent conference, section and state competitor with four AA titles since 2012 to their name.  

“The season has been full of adversity,” said Head Coach Adeline Hallen. “[It has been] kind of a slow start,” she said. “But we typically like that because we hope to get to the Nike National meet in the postseason [and] we don’t like to race too hard too early.” Hallen said “we hope to have everyone on the line healthy”. 

“The team is definitely deep. That’s a huge asset, especially when you go up against teams that don’t have that,”  said Hallen. “We probably have seven or eight girls that could be in our scoring five.”

Of Nechanicky, Hallen said “[she’s] just a positive, hard working kid. Very focused and driven. [She’s] a great teammate and just loves the sport.” Hallen said Nechanicky is a talented point guard in basketball as well. “She has been shooting hoops in the mornings when not in the weight room with cross country.”

Abby Neckanicky leads a pack of runners around the halfway mark before pulling away to finish with a 5k time of 18:09.3, 16 seconds ahead of the next runner.

“My sister Riley encouraged me to run to stay in shape for basketball,” Nechanicky said. She said she is looking forward to the basketball season, which overlaps with the cross country postseason, but she is still focused on the task at hand: the upcoming conference, section and state meet.

Nechanicky said that the high school season has so far been a lot of fun. She said she had no individual goals at the moment. “I just want to run the best I can for my team,” she said. Her favorite part about running she said was just simply doing it with her teammates. 

“As a youngster, she’s already showing so much leadership,” said Hallen. 

Hallen said it is especially nice for Atkinson to know that Nechanicky has her back and can lead the team. 

“Hungry and excited,’ Hallen said of the team’s attitude. Neckhanicky said that she is concentrating on running smart. Maturity, depth, and drive are honed characteristics of this Wayzata team, and the coaches and runners hope to put it all together for the postseason.