LA CROSSE, WI -

Despite losing six of its top seven runners from last season, the Central girls cross country team is off to a great start.

The Red Raiders won Onalaska's Gale Johnson Invite, the Viroqua Invite and placed third at a regional invite at Luther College in Decorah. Even Head Coach Scott Anderson says he's surprised, considering their lead runner, Sara Brekke, is a freshman.

"It's weird. You always imagine being first is going to feel like you're on top of the world but you kind of realize you don't feel like a different person," Brekke said.

Central's fourth runner, Grace Weber, missed all of last season. She tore her labrum and underwent hip surgery. Weber also battled injuries her sophomore season.

"You don't really realize how much a sport can mean to you until you can't do it and I really realized that my sophomore year, my junior year," Weber said. "Coming to practice and not being able to participate and missing out on meets and not being able to compete was a big loss."

"It's exciting for me, from a standpoint of she's able to come out and do this again, probably continue to carry it on lifelong, where she can continue to run for fun, cause it definitely was a pretty undergoing surgery she had to endure," Anderson said.

That's not Anderson's only reason to smile this fall. His daughter in law, Tyne Stecklein, is one of the professional dancers on "Dancing With the Stars" this season. She's paired with Bill Nye the Science Guy.