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Cross country preview: Experience a strength for XC teams

The Rosemount boys cross country team is counting on consistent front-of-the-pack finishes from at least a couple of its returning runners.

The team’s success is going to hinge on where the rest of the Irish’s top five runners come in. Cody Sedbrook and Ryan Condon were both lost to graduation after serving as consistent varsity scorers and helping the Irish to their sixth top-five state finish in the last eight years, leaving two voids in the lineup that could be filled by any number of runners.

“All the points are scored with the No. 4 and 5 guys. You have to have your low cards up front and then it all comes down to solidifying the pack,” Rosemount coach Chris Harder said. “Right now we have lots of competition to be in that varsity top seven, so that helps. We’ve got guys that are a year older, we just have to hope they’re a year better.”

One runner Harder expects to be even better is Alex Berhe. The senior won all-state honors with a 16th-place finish last fall at Northfield, placed 11th in the 3,200 at the state track meet, is currently 12th in the state’s Class 2A rankings and is coming off the fastest Run for the Gold four-mile time ever turned in by an Irish high school runner.

“He’s put in a lot of miles and is a regular at Lebanon Hills. He works and works,” Harder said. “He’s very dedicated and committed and passionate about what he does… Our goal for him is to be on the (state) podium both as a team and as an individual.”

Also back is Sam Ivanecky, who led the Irish to the South Suburban Conference title in Berhe’s absence last fall, running to a fifth-place finish at Eagan. This spring, Ivanecky ran legs on Rosemount’s fifth-place 4x400 and 4x800 relays at the state meet.

Other returning letter-winners for the Irish are Ryan Brumm, Clayton Smith and Sam Karlson. The trio finished 16-19-29 at the conference meet and 14-16-33 at the section meet.

“We have more guys back than we normally do, but that doesn’t guarantee anything unless they get to work,” Harder said.

Also in the running for varsity spots, according to Harder, are returning JV runners Caden Hill, Travis Lorch and Mason Grindland.

“We’ll know a lot more Friday (after our alumni meet),” Harder said.

Like the boys, the Rosemount girls team also welcomes back five of its top seven scorers from a season ago. Gone are Briana Cleveland and five-time state qualifier Hannah Grim.

Sydney Hansen is back after earning all-conference honors with a ninth-place finish, as is 17th-place section meet finisher and three-year varsity runner Liz Evenocheck. Returners Sydney Regalado, Naomi Alvarez and Natalie Narloch are also back in the fold after helping the Irish finish third at the section meet, just six points shy of a state meet berth.

“I think the girls are going to surprise a lot of teams this year,” Harder said. “There’s a lot of young talent that will be contending for varsity spots.”

Thirty-four girls showed up for the first day of practice Monday, the most the program has ever had. Among those who could contend for varsity spots, according to Harder, are Dani Follett-Dion, Allison Peterson, Addie Westman and Ellen Stefanko.

“There is going to be some competition and that also means we’ll be deeper and have a decent JV team,” Harder said.