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Cross country: Irish just miss podium

Rosemount's Liz Evenocheck runs at last weekend's state cross country meet. The freshman finished 57th in her first state meet appearance.2 / 3
Nathan Rock runs at the state cross country meet. He finished ninth and earned All State honors.3 / 3

The post-race awards ceremony inside the Skoglund Center gym has been a part of the state meet routine for the Rosemount boys cross country team over the last six years.

The last three times the Irish have competed as a team at St. Olaf College - in 2006, 2007 and 2010 - they have found their way onto the podium after finishing in the top three. The fifth-ranked Irish ran well Saturday, but missed another trip to the award ceremony by a matter of seconds as they placed fourth out of 16 teams in the Class 2A State Championships in Northfield.

"The boys had a great season. The guys left everything on the course and as a team had a good meet. The field was as deep and as competitive as any in recent memory amongst the upper half of the teams," Rosemount coach Chris Harder said. "We were the first team to have our five scorers finish. In fact, we had six runners in before any team had five in, but that was little consolation for not making the awards stand. We are disappointed to not make the top three, but we are not disappointed in our effort and the solid race we had as a team."

Top-ranked Stillwater ran away with the team title, placing four runners in the top 20 en route to scoring 92 team points. Sixth-ranked Burnsville, who finished second to Rosemount in Section 3AA, surged to second by placing four runners in the top 13. Edina edged the Irish 129-132 in the battle for third by posting a 12-point advantage with their top three runners, who came in sixth, 17th and 27th, respectively.

Eden Prairie (137) and Andover (149) rounded out a talented top six teams.

"Going in, we knew Stillwater was the odds on favorite, with Burnsville, the 6AA schools Edina and Eden Prairie, and Andover most likely battling for the next spots. Last week at the section meet, we ran on the same course as Stillwater a half hour before their race. Their times put six of their runners ahead of our second. On Saturday, we had six in front of their fifth. So we certainly competed with them and competed well overall," Harder said. "We defeated Burnsville at the conference and section meet, but we knew their front four would give us trouble in the state meet. In less competitive meets, their fifth gave them a lot of trouble. Our depth could not quite overcome their first four on Saturday."

Senior Nathan Rock led the Irish with a 21st-place finish in his final career state meet. He ran a time of 16 minutes, 10 seconds on the 5,000-meter course to earn All-State honors for the second year in a row. He joins Mark McMonigal (1979 and 1980), Marc Ryan (1980), Bruce Erb (1984), Chad Duffy (1990), Aaron Quarstad (1990), Nathaniel Petrich (2004), Jordan Carlson (2005, 2006, 2007), Chris Massey (2008), and Shane McCallum (2010) as Irish runners who have earned All-State honors.

"He was not at full strength most the season, but put together smart tactics and a real toughness over the later stages of the race," Harder said. "Nathan really deserved another year of recognition."

Junior Trevor Capra was the next Rosemount runner to reach the finish. He used a strong kick over the last fifth of the race to pass 14 runners and came in 41st in a time of 16:27.

Senior Calvin Lehn crossed the finish line four seconds later to take 50th place. His finish earned him academic all-state honors for the second straight year.

Senior Nick Coillard continued to come on strong as he served as the team's No. 4 runner in his final career race. Couillard, who finished fifth for the team for much of the season, came in 52nd in 16:32.

"Nick Couillard had a breakthrough season. He improved dramatically this season and gave us a chance to compete with the top teams. We were searching for a guy to make our top five. Nick was our fifth most the season, but was our third at sections and fourth at state," Harder said. "He just knows how to work at a consistent effort and it was nice to see him have a lot of success racing this season and at state."

The other two seniors in Rosemount's lineup, Chandler Dye and Tyler Blumke, were the best fifth and sixth finishers for any team at the state meet. Dye came in 74th in 16:46 and Blumke was right behind, placing 76th in 16:47.

"There is a short steep hill before the final stretch and that terrain plays into Chandler's wheelhouse with his strength and speed as a half-miler," Harder said. "Tyler improved tremendously this season. He always had the potential, but he is just starting to understand what his capabilities are in this sport."

Freshman Sam Ivanecky rounded out the Irish lineup with a 118th-place time of 17:23. He placed seventh out of 11 freshmen in the field.

"He had a great season, earning some of the best marks we have had for a freshman," Harder said. "He gained valuable experience and will be a key member next year as we try reload and compete for another state meet berth."

The Irish, ranked 46th nationally, will compete together one last time at Saturday's Nike Heartland Regional in Sioux Falls. The meet will feature the top 25 teams in the region, which includes Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. The top two teams advance to Nike Nationals in Portland, Ore.

Evenocheck, Grim compete for girls

Rosemount's Liz Evenocheck and Hannah Grim finished ninth and 10th and just three seconds apart, respectively, at the Section 3AA Championships.

A knee injury that cost Grim 10 days of training left 43 seconds between the teammates at Saturday's Class 2A State Championships.

"The girls had mixed results, but overall they were good representatives our program," Rosemount coach Chris Harder said. "Hannah Grim was fortunate just to make it the starting line. She injured her knee the weekend after conference. She basically didn't run until the section meet. Her effort got her through to state, but that time off from training probably affected her 10 days later at state. Both girls had a great season and are part of a strong nucleus that can get our team back to the state meet."

Evenocheck, a freshman, placed 57th out of 158 runners in a time of 15 minutes, 22 seconds. She came in 17th out of 46 runners in the field who were freshmen or younger.

"Liz Evenocheck made giants strides during the season to qualify for state," Harder said. "She gained valuable experience and is just starting to realize her potential."

Grim settled for a 122nd-place time of 16:05, over a minute slower than her season-best section time last week.