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Cross country: Setting up for Sections

In the grand scheme of things for the Rosemount cross country teams, the Lake Conference championship meet is used as a stepping stone to the bigger meets at the end of the season.

That is often especially true for a perennially strong team such as the Irish. For many state-quality teams, the conference meet is sometimes overlooked.

Rosemount knows the importance of the Lake Conference meet.

"The boys had a tremendous meet," Irish coach Chris Harder said. "We would like to use it as a springboard to the section meet next Thursday at Valleywood. Each guy ran close to a minute faster than last year. This team has improved individually and collectively. On paper, if you take the results from last year and include only returning runners, we were ninth. This group improved significantly on that mark."

The Rosemount boys placed fourth overall, while the girls team finished eighth. Eden Prairie won both of the team titles.

Irish senior Chris Massey won the boys race with a time of 16 minutes, 40.8 seconds. He became Rosemount's first individual winner since Chad Duffy in 1990.

Massey trailed by nine seconds with a mile left. He made his charge with about 600 meters left, took the lead with about 250 meters left and won going away.

"Chris Massey followed his race strategy to a 'T,'" Harder said. "This is a nice win for him following a solid summer of training. He put in time and is really focused this year. This is also a nice win for our program."

Abasher Abasher was the second Irish boys runner to cross the line, placing 26th with a time of 17:32.1.

Adam Sommers placed 31st in 17:40.9. Kyle Mills was right behind in 32nd with a time of 17:41.5, and Andrew Comstock was 34th in 17:43.0.

Freshmen Nathan Rock (42nd, 17:46.7) and Chandler Dye (54, 18:08.8) also ran for Rosemount.

"Our pack ran smart early and with a lot of heart at the end," Harder said. "I like the way they moved themselves up throughout the race, but we also won a number of kicking matches to the tape.

"We will need that same tenacity next week at sections. The guys still have plenty left in the tank."

Tori Grund was the Irish's top finisher in the girls race. A freshman, Grund placed 20th, crossing the line in 15:57.4.

She earned all-conference for the effort, even in a conference with five of the top 10 teams in the state.

"She had a strong finish," Harder said. "She improved tremendously this season and really has a bright future for our program."

Ashley Comstock (16:19.1) and Kelsey Magnuson (16:24.3) worked together to placed 31st and 36th, respectively.

Bridget Burkard (44, 16:37.8), Erica Jackson (49, 16:48.8), Emily Davis (51, 16:53.0), and Ellen Fischer (17:17.0) rounded out the lineup for the Irish.

"Our pack did well, although we would've like to close up our spread like we did last week at Owatonna," Harder said.