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Boys cross country: Deep Irish cruise to 3AA title

Depth once again separated the Rosemount boys cross country team from the rest of the field last Thursday at the Section 3AA Championships.

Fourth and fifth runners Ryan Brumm and Ryan Condon combined to defeat their Eastview and Burnsville counterparts by 22 and 32 places, respectively, and that was the difference for the eighth-ranked Irish, who outscored runner-up Eastview 59-80 to earn their third consecutive trip to the Class 2A State Meet.

The Irish compete Saturday afternoon at St. Olaf College in Northfield where they've placed third and fourth the last two years. Head coach Chris Harder said reaching the podium is going to be difficult this year, but that the St. Olaf course gives his runners a good chance to run their best races of the season.

"It may sound simplistic, but we want to have each guy run to the best of their ability. If that happens, we will have a shot at the medal stand. Stillwater and Wayzata appear to have separated themselves from the field, with Edina clearly the third best team. We are in the next tier," he said. "Our guys are comfortable with how we attack races and the course is set up well for us to take advantage of how we compete.... We hope to take advantage of our strength and put us in position for the final charge the last half-mile."

Six of Rosemount's seven runners turned in season-best times on the waterlogged section meet course at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. Senior Trevor Capra blazed across the 5,000-meter route in a season-best time of 15 minutes, 47 seconds, to place fourth out of 104 runners. The state meet veteran will be looking for another finish among the leaders Saturday as he tries to close out his career with All-State honors.

"He is so consistent because of his racing instincts, well beyond his years," Harder said. "It will take patience early, then a real desire to withstand the pain he will need to endure to get to the medal stand. He certainly can be All-State, but the goal is much higher."

Sophmore Sam Ivanecky joined Capra in the top 10 with a seventh-place time of 16:20 that matched his season-best clocking at the Ev Berg Invitational. He's the Irish's only other returning state runner after serving as the No. 7 runner a year ago.

"He has learned to race this season. It would be an understatement to say that his performances this year surprised the competition," Harder said.

Senior Tommy Linder served as the team's No. 3 runner at the section meet with an 11th-place time of 16:36. He has improved his average time by about a minute since last year when he competed for the Irish JV team.

"Tommy stepped it up this year in a big way," Harder said. "We knew he could contribute, but we never would've predicted he could place 11th in Section 3AA until after the conference meet."

Despite the strong efforts up front from Capra, Ivanecky and Linder, the Irish (22 points) were bested by the top threes of both Eastview (21) and Burnsville (20). Brumm and Condon made up the difference, placing 17th and 20th, respectively, to earn the highest finishes of any of the No. 4 and 5 runners in the race. Brumm used a strong finish to the race to come in at 16:43 and Condon continued a great finish to the season with a personal-best time of 16:47.

The Irish also had the top No. 6 and 7 runners in the field, with Alex Berhe coming in 24th in 16:59 and Michael Sampers 33rd in 17:10. Harder said both runners showed dramatic improvement this fall after putting in lots of training over the summer.

The Class 2A boys portion of the state meet gets under way Saturday at 1 p.m.