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Irish boys cross-country wins conference championship

The Rosemount boys' varsity cross-country team won their sixth South Suburban Conference championship in the last eight years. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Three Irish girl runners placed in the top-20 and earned All-Conference honors: Dani Follett-Dion, Abby McNeil and Avery Leppones. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Continued dominance

The Rosemount boys cross-country team won their sixth South Suburban Conference championship Friday, Oct. 13, in just the race's eighth year of existence. The Irish had all five of their scoring runners place in the top-20, which gave the five runners all-conference honors. Head coach Chris Harder said that is the fifth time that all five scoring runners for the Irish have been all-conference.

Junior Luke Labatte continued his phenomenal running by winning the event with a time of 16 minutes and 22.80 seconds, 18 seconds ahead of the second-place runner and teammate senior Spencer Schultz, who finished in 16:40.40. Senior Mark Biechler took 14th with a time of 17:12.10, junior Payne Freske finished 19th (17:20.50) and fellow junior Danny Cox placed 20th with a time of 17:21.00. The alternate runners were freshman Elliott Nicholson who took 30th with a time of 17:46.90 and junior Jack Labatte who finished 32nd in 17:50.40.

Harder said that all seven of his runners ran some of their best races to give Rosemount a comfortable win.

"We were close to the lead at the mile mark and looked really good," he said. "Our guys did a nice job working their way up through the woods. Luke (Labatte) gave us that low card we expected and Spencer competed with passion by biding his time and charging home the last 800 to provide a first-second finish. Our three other scorers (Mark Biechler, Payne Freske and Danny Cox) all earned all-conference by winning their battles to the line. Our two pushers (freshman Elliott Nicholson and junior Jack Labatte) beat everyone else's final scoring fifth runner except Prior Lake's."

The boys' junior varsity also won the sixth conference championship as well. Sophomore Garrit Livingston won the race in 18:07.40, freshman teammate Pranav Vijay finished third in 18:09.10 and junior Zach Zimmer placed fifth (18:15.20). Senior Matthew Sampers took ninth with a time of 18:29.00 and sophomore Elkane Mooh finished 13th in 18:35.50, while alternates Anders Roback (freshman, 18:50.70) and Owen Benson (junior, 18:53.90) placed back-to-back in 25th and 26th, respectively.

Harder said that the junior varsity really pushed themselves to overcome some obstacles.

"The junior varsity boys were shorthanded without Joe Fischbach and Sam Anderson, but we had a few step up," he explained. "Most noteworthy was a great race by Elkane Mooh. He was well back a week earlier at Ev Berg, but was really inspired being a few guys down. Gerrit Livingston won in a sprint to the finish and Pranav Vijay finished as one of the top freshmen of the day."

Girls earn top SSC finish

The Rosemount girls took second in the meet, which is their highest finish to date at the SSC championships. The Irish had three runners finish in the top-20 to earn all-conference honors and all of their scorers plus the two alternates finished in the top-30.

Senior Dani Follett-Dion took eighth with a time of 20:12.20, freshman Abby McNeil finished 11th in 20:17.20 and freshman Avery Leppones placed 19th (20:40.20). Freshman Lucy Jagoe (20:46.40) and sophomore Kate Beckwith (20:47.20) were back-to-back in 23rd and 24th. Senior Tess Grunklee finished 26th in 20:48.80 and fellow senior Sydney Regalado placed 28th (20:49.10).

"Our girls really ran a team race," Harder said. "They encouraged and supported each other. Dani Follett-Dion started driving the train, we were still 26 (points) down on Shakopee with a mile to go and nipped them and Lakeville South for second, our highest finish at this meet. (I'm) Really proud of the way the girls competed as a team, they showed a lot of grit."

The Rosemount girls took home a conference championship of their own after what Harde called a close call last year.

"The junior varsity girls felt they had some unfinished business from a year ago after finishing second in a close contest," he said. "The girls showed a lot of poise by sticking to their race strategies when they were down early, but kept charging through the difficult hill sequence. Natalie Fendrich led the charge and served as a marker and Makayla Bishop's furious finish is indicative of the type of performances we had all day in the meet."

Bishop (freshman, 21:59.40), Caitlyn Storley (junior, 22:00.10) and Fendrich (senior, 22:01.10) all finished back-to-back-to-back in sixth, seventh and eighth. Freshman Ella McDevitt took 10th with a time of 22:02.60, junior Abbie Doran finished 11th in 22:10.50 and freshman Olivia Passeri placed 17th (22:27.20). Senior Alli Peterson took 30th with a time of 23:04.90.

Both Irish teams next race Thursday, Oct. 26, at the section 3AA race in Apple Valley.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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