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Cross country: Irish have mixed results at home invite

When Rosemount played host to the Irish Invitational last week, it continued a tradition for the school's boys and girls cross country teams of getting an early test at home.

In most cases, the results from the Irish Invitational have been pleasing to the Rosemount boys and girls, especially the boys.

This year's event offered mixed results.

It was bound to happen at some point, but the Irish boys squad had its streak of five straight team titles snapped as White Bear Lake left town with the championship.

However, senior Chris Massey got his first career win.

And the girls squad had its best finish in four years.

"Overall, we had a decent meet," coach Chris Harder said. "The guys wanted to finish higher, but reality is we are gaining varsity experience. Also, we should be much better over the 5,000-meter distance than the two miles we competed at on Friday morning."

The boys team finished sixth with 172 points. White Bear Lake won the team title with 50 points.

The girls had a strong showing with a ninth-place score of 239. Lakeville North won the girls team competition with 74 points among five ranked teams.

"I really liked the aggressiveness the girls showed," Harder said. "Tori (Grund) had a good start to the season. She was in 15th at the mile, and finished well. She will be better at the traditional 4,000-meter distance. Kelsey (Magnuson) also had a great start and closed well to finish in the top 25.

"The team ran pretty even splits, but most importantly, they got out and competed. That was good to see. This group is training hard, having fun and competing well. We want to see that continue as the season progresses."

Massey followed up his strong performance last time out in the 2007 state meet with a solid 2008 first run and a time of 10 minutes, 6 seconds.

"The individual race turned into a large pack at the halfway point," Harder said. "With a little over a half-mile to go, it became a guts race between Massey and Bill Struntz of White Bear Lake. When it comes to a guts race, I like Massey's chances to beat the guy next to him."

Senior Ben Carlson placed 37th with a time of 11:03.8. Not far behind was junior Kyle Mills in 11:05.5.

Senior Andrew Sommers finished in 11:14.2 to place 47th, while Andrew Comstock had a time of 11:15.5, good for 48th. Senior Phil Levine ran an 11:16.6 and sophomore Chris Mergens had a time of 11:17.6.

Grund -- a ninth-grader -- led the girls across the line with a 21st place run of 12:33.8. Magnuson -- a senior -- placed 23rd in 12:35.6.

Junior Ellen Fisher ran a 13:03.8, and was followed by sophomores Ashley Comstock (13:16.6), Bridget Burkard (13:43.3), Erica Jackson (13:44.6), and Taylor Sommers (15:15.7).

Nick Moss improved his time by nearly four minutes from last year as the Irish's top JV boy in 17th place (11:46.9).