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Irish cross-country teams dominate Ev Berg Invitational

The Irish girls' cross-country team took first out of 13 teams and had eight runners place in the top-25. Photo courtesy of Chris Harder1 / 2
The Rosemount boys' cross-country team had three runners place in the top-5 on the way to winning the Ev Berg Invitational in Owatonna. Photo courtesy of Chris Harder2 / 2

The Rosemount boys and girls cross-country teams traveled to Owatonna on Thursday, Oct. 5, to compete in the Ev Berg Invitational. The Irish dominated the event by winning both the boys and girls races, and having a combined 12 runners finish in the top-25. Junior Luke Labatte and senior Spencer Schultz finished first-second in the boys' race while the girls' team had all their scorers finish within eight places of each other.

Boys run away from the field

The Irish boys finished 27 points ahead of second-place Winona and beat third-place Owatonna by almost 80 points. Labatte (15 minutes and 38.5 seconds) and Schultz (15:58.2) had the only two sub-16 minutes times out of 379 runners. Senior Mark Biechler was not far behind in fifth with a time of 16:19.6, while junior Payne Freske took 12th in 16:34.1 and fellow junior Danny Cox finished right behind him with a time of 16:35.2 to round out Rosemount's scorers. Freshman Elliott Nicholson placed 30th in 17:08.9 and junior Jack Labatte (17:15.1) was 34th as the sixth-and-seventh runners.

"The boys steadily moved up throughout the race," head coach Chris Harder said. "We trailed by over 50 points a little over a mile into the race, but gradually pulled even with a mile to go. The last mile, we won every individual battle to the line. Mark Biechler was a shining example of the Irish grit with a spirited final half-mile where he outdueled a group of eight runners with a personal best time."

Rosemount also had a whole host of runners compete independently. Sophomore Gerrit Livingston took 42nd with a time of 17:23.8, freshman Pranav Vijay finished in 46th (17:26.1), and junior Joe Fischbach (17:26.8) and freshman Noah Mesfin (17:27.9) placed back-to-back in 49th and 50th.

Senior Sam Anderson took 83rd with a time of (18:05.1), juniors Lucas Hanley (18:14.0) and Bennett Magnuson (18:20.9) finished in 96th and 101st, respectively, and two sophomores ran strong in Jackson Jedlicka (117th-18:47.6) and Jake Richards (120th-18:49.7).

Fellow sophomore George Grunklee took 122nd in 18:50.5, freshman Niklas Barret finished 136th in 19:05.4, junior Roger Abercrombie placed 143rd (19:08.0) and senior Max Hjelmstad was 146th in 19:09.6. Sophomore Sean Loesch took 155th with a time of 19:16.3, senior Tanner Wenzel finished 160th in 19:20.6 and sophomore Elkane Mooh placed not far behind in 163rd (19:21.6). Two pairs of runners finished back-to-back separated by just one runner. Sophomore Max Kranz and freshman Daniel Guille had identical times of 19:28.4 and finished 173rd and 174th, while sophomores Jacob Simons (19:29.8) and Jeremy Carlson (19.32.3) took 176th and 177th respectively.

Sophomore Alex Gilley took 185th with a time of 19:39.8, fellow sophomore Ben Fjeld finished 206th in 20:05.6 and freshman Cameron Estes placed 208th (20:07.5). Another freshman, Evan Foster, was 222nd with a time of 20:20.5, sophomore JT Oliver took 247th in 20:49.0 and freshman Kezelee Jones placed 271st (21:23.4). Senior Aidan Buesing took 286th with a time of 21:43.4, freshman James Perry finished 293rd in 21:56.4, fellow freshman Jack Fritschel placed 301st (22:07.1) and senior Nick Stoner was 309th in 22:20.9. Sophomore Elijah Patterson took 321st with a time of 23:00.6.

A total of 379 runners ran in the boys varsity race.

Teamwork makes the dream work

The Rosemount girls team beat second-place and Suburban South Conference foe Lakeville North by a solid margin to win the girls' race. The Irish beat 12 other teams thanks to what Harder called a "tremendous team performance."

"They worked together to take control of the race by the mile mark and never looked back," Harder explained. "Lucy Jagoe lead the charge in the early stages and Dani Follett-Dion pushed hard the later stages. In between, the girls supported each other with a truly great team effort."

Their top runner was senior Dani Follett-Dion who took sixth with a time of 19:19.0. Grouped behind her were six runners over eight spots. The three freshmen, Lucy Jagoe (19:31.6), Avery Leppones (19:33.7) and Abby McNeil (19:35.5) finished 10th, 11th and 13th, respectively. Right behind them was senior Tess Grunklee as the last scorer in 14th with a time of 19:38.3. Fellow senior Sydney Regalado finished 15th in 19:39.1 and sophomore Kate Beckwith took 18th (19:54.7) as the alternates.

Just like the boys' team, the girls' had a multitude of runners run independently. Seniors Sydney Hansen (20:07.4) and Natalie Fendrich (20:49.9) finished 22nd and 45th, respectively. Juniors Caitlyn Storley (21:02.7) and Abbie Doran (21:07.1) took 50th and 56th, while freshman Makayla Bishop placed 60th in 21:15.3. Senior Alli Peterson (21:40.8) and freshman Ava Perry (21:42.5) finished back-to-back in 80th and 81st, and freshman Olivia Passeri took 85th with a time of 21:48.3.

Freshman Ella McDevitt took 111th with a time of 22:33.4 and sophomore Grace Willmott (23:10.2) and senior Addie Westman (23:10.7) finished back-to-back in 143rd and 144th. Another trio of runners who placed back-to-back-to-back are junior Renee Boldus (23:58.3), senior Cassie Bills (24:04.6) and freshman Lisa Eidum (24:05.2) in 179th, 180th and 181st. Freshman Erica Stockdale placed 187th in 24:12.3, sophomore Kate Lillemoen took 209th with a time of 24:37.0, freshman Samantha Meznarich finished 210th in 24:37.5, senior Emily Buckenberger placed 212th (24:40.5) and sophomore Elizabeth Lorch was 213th in 24:42.8.

Senior Rose Bauernfeind took 224th with a time of 25:00.5, junior Maren Honcharenko finished 227th in 25:06.1, freshman Emily Gadker (25:52.7) and junior Madisyn Huss (25:52.1) placed back-to-back in 244th and 245th, and junior Cassidy Joe Gier was 258th in 26:05.0. Senior Erin Smith took 294th with a time of 28:03.2.

The field for the girls' race consisted of 330 runners.

Both teams next run at the Suburban South Conference championships Friday, Oct. 13, in Eagan.

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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