It’s state for runnersThe goal was to beat Esko but heading to the state meet as a team will do. The Cook County/Two Harbors girls cross country team finished second to Esko in the Section 7A meet last Thursday in Cloquet.
By: News-Chronicle reports, Lake County News Chronicle
The goal was to beat Esko but heading to the state meet as a team will do.
The Cook County/Two Harbors girls cross country team finished second to Esko in the Section 7A meet last Thursday in Cloquet.
“We don’t believe there is any such thing as a perfect race, and certainly not a perfect team race, but the Viking cross country team came about as close to perfect as they could at last week’s Section 7A meet in Cloquet,” head coach Chris Hegg said. “This was the third time we went to the section meet with a legitimate chance of advancing an entire team to state, the boys’ team in 2005, the girls’ team last year, and the girls team this year. We have advanced one or two individuals for each of the last seven years in a row. We went to this years’ meet with high hopes, tempered by the memory of past years’ experiences.”
At the coaches preferred viewing spot about a third-mile into the race, they were all pretty much on plan, according to Hegg.
Team leader Signe Larson had Esko’s top girls right in sight, running in about 20th, Ailee Larson and Sonja Peterson were together a short ways back, while Anna Schield, Mercedes Leininger, Michelle Weitz and Shelby Ahrendt were close behind, all in the top half of the field. Esko did have a big on-course team lead as they completed the first mile.
“It wasn’t clear which team was second at the point, but we were moving well, and moving up,” Hegg said. “As they came back in sight on the last lap, Signe had moved up to a top 10 spot, which she improved to sixth with a good sprint. Ailee uncorked what is probably the fastest finish on the girls’ team, and claimed 10th, the final individual qualifying spot – although we hoped it didn’t matter, as our goal was the team spot.”
Peterson was right behind in 12th as Leininger and Schield came in with the next big pack, as the team got in to the state meet.
Leininger finished 17th and Anna was 23rd. For good measure, Weitz closed with her best time ever, and finished 28th. Ahrendt closed the team’s scoring in 56th place.
“As we awaited the final results, we knew we were close to Esko for the title,” Hegg said. “Every one of our top five was right behind or right ahead of their top five. When the final score was released, they had beaten us 54-59.”
“When we looked at our individual times, we realized we couldn’t have done much better,” Hegg said. “All of our top six girls either had all-time personal bests, or were within 10 seconds of their best. Esko is just a little better team.”
Signe’s time would have won the event last year, while Ailee’s would have been fourth.
Heading down to the state meet at St. Olaf in Northfield on Saturday Nov. 7, both teams have a shot at a top half finish, compared to 14th and 16th in the 16-team field last year. Individually, Kieran Scannell and Signe both have an All-State spot.
Members of the team from Two Harbors include seniors Peterson, Leininger and Amber Fletcher, along with junior Schield.
Scannell won the boys race (17:13) and is the only Cook County/Two Harbors runner to qualify for state
“Team leader Scannell was shooting for a top five position (top 10 individuals qualify for state), and hoping to be near the leaders,” Hegg said. “Knowing the pace would start unrealistically fast, Kieran planned to stay back a ways, but keep in touch, then move up on the second lap. Senior captain Drew Holmen was hoping to finish his career with a strong race, as a top 10 finish was not realistic.”
In the event 110 boys were off at the crack of the starters’ pistol.
Team favorite Eveleth went out hard, in fact their entire seven-person team was clear of the field about ½-mile into the 3.1-mile race. That couldn’t last. Scannell was in the chase pack in about 30th place. Holmen, David Bergstrom and Josh Ensign were about 1/3 of the way back, with Leif Gilsvik, Darren Waha and Ben Seaton about 2/3 of the way back in the pack.
As they came around completing the first lap, Scannell had moved up to 10th, while the rest of the team had also moved ahead.
“Stationed about half-mile out from the finish, we waited anxiously,” Hegg said. “As they came into view, Kieran was hanging on to the back of a twosome that had separated themselves from the field. As we cut over to the finish, he had dropped back about 10 yards. As they came around the final corner, he had rejoined the leader (long time track and cross country foe Jackson Lindquist of Esko) while the other boy had dropped off the lead.”
Scannell gradually pulled up along side of Jackson, Jackson picked it up, and then Scannell found his top gear and pulled ahead for the win, setting a new personal best of 17:13.
Not too far back, Holmen had moved up to 20th, with an excellent time of 18:29. Ensign was next, getting a personal record in 37th with a 19:04. Bergstrom was four places back in 19:16. Gilsvik passed Seaton at the line, finishing two-tenths of a second ahead in 20:44.6, good for 72nd place, while Waha ran a solid 21:03 for 79th.
Overall the boys finished sixth, while Esko upset Eveleth for the win.
Two Harbors runners on the boy’s side include senior Gilsvik and junior Ensign.
If you go
Watch the runners
l The Cook County/Two Harbors girls cross-country team will compete in the state meet Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield with races beginning at 2 p.m.