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Mike Rough, left, is with a pack of lead runners during Thursday's section meet in Owatonna. Rough qualified for the state meet with a sixth-place finish.

Rough qualifies for state cross country meet; Strandberg misses out by one place

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Rough qualifies for state cross country meet; Strandberg misses out by one place
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Hastings senior Mike Rough missed the first few weeks of the boys cross country season with an injury. But thanks to his great finish at last week's section cross country meet, his season will last a week longer than most.


Rough came back from an injury to place sixth overall at the section meet, and he'll run this Saturday in Northfield at the state meet.

Rough will be the lone Hastings representative at the meet. On the girls side, Bri Strandberg missed out on qualifying by just one spot. The top 10 runners advance, and she took 11th.

The boys

As a team, Hastings placed eighth out 14 teams at the meet.

Lakeville North won the meet with 60 points. Owatonna was second with 71.

Also finishing ahead of Hastings were Red Wing (95), Lakeville South (117), Winona (126), Mayo (170) and Century (199). Hastings had 234 points.

Rough placed sixth with a time of 17 minutes, 7.5 seconds.

Chase Keilers was the second Hastings runner to cross the finish line. The HHS junior came in 47th with a time of 18:31.2.

"Chase had a fantastic race," Dewall said. "He's been our Mr. Consistent all season. He did really well for us all year."

Wyatt Behrends was 55th in 18:44.1. He is a senior.

"You couldn't ask for a better kid than Wyatt," Dewall said. "He's a leader. He's very dedicated and performed extremely well for us all season."

Eighth-grader Zach Benning was 61st overall in 19:02.1.

"Zach is a real, real awesome athlete," Dewall said. "We're looking for a lot of great things from him."

Matt Rogness, a Hastings senior, was 65th in 19:11.1.

"Matt had a fantastic career with us," Dewall said. "He improved a lot over the years. He's a great kid to have around. A fun kid."

Riley Tarrant, a sophomore, was 74th in 19:22.3.

"We're happy we get him back," Dewall said. "He's getting tougher as the years go by. He's got a lot of talent and ability that is untouched right now. He has the potential to do extremely well for us."

Jon Erickson, a senior, finished 97th in 22:28.9 to round out the Hastings lineup.

"Jon worked his guts out every meet," Dewall said. "Even though he wasn't our best runner, he definitely was a huge inspiration for our other kids. He became a great leader as the season went along. We're going to miss him. He's a great kid."

More on Rough

Early this fall, Rough had a leg injury and didn't race for three weeks at the start of the season. When he came back, Dewall had to be sure Rough didn't push too hard too early.

"It's hard to play catch-up," Dewall said. "You know you have a good athlete who has put in a lot of summer training. The biggest thing was to bring Mike back gradually and not to go after too big of a chunk at a time. You have to be patient. You don't want him to get reinjured."

Rough got better as the season wore on, then really put it all together two weeks ago at the Suburban East Conference championships, where he placed ninth.

"That was the turning point," Dewall said. "He realized he could run with those guys."

The state meet is at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

This will be the second trip to the state meet for the Hastings senior. He qualified for the state meet last season and finished 34th overall with a time of 16:26.6.

"I think he could have a fantastic performance there," Dewall said. "He could put one heck of a race together."


The Hastings girls placed sixth out of 14 teams. Lakeville South won the meet with 37 points. Lakeville North secured the second qualifying spot with 57 points.

Finishing just ahead of Hastings were Red Wing (128), Winona (144) and Rochester Mayo (151). Hastings finished with 153 points.

All season long, the Raiders were strong. But toward the end of the season, an injury to Maddy O'Brien and an illness affecting Alicia Beattie slowed the Raiders some. That certainly didn't help in a competitive meet like sections.

"The girls were a little disappointed," Dewall said. "We had hoped for a high place, but you have to give those girls a lot of credit. They worked their tails off."

Hastings was led by freshman Bri Strandberg, who placed 11th overall. Ask any Minnesota cross country runner about placing 11th at the section meet, and they'll tell you its the worst possible spot. Strandberg missed qualifying for the state meet by just one spot, as only the top 10 advance. She had a time of 16:05.0.

"It's tough to be in that 11th spot," Dewall said. "It's hard to not go to the state meet when you're that close."

Still, the fact that she was able to place so well as a freshman has Dewall excited about her future.

"I thought Bri got better and better as the year went on," he said. "She started to really believe in herself as a runner. She is just an extremely coachable athlete. As the season went on, she really, really performed unbelievably well. She's got three strong years ahead of her, and she can only get better."

Kelly Pechous, a Hastings senior, also had nothing but tough luck, coming in 12th just behind Strandberg. Pechous had a time of 16.12.3.

"You have to give Kelly an awful lot of credit," Dewall said. "She's been up there all season long for us. She had a great section meet. She's tough and consistent. She's had a great career and is definitely a focused and dedicated athlete. I thought all year she performed with a lot of guts."

Clarese Mancl was the third Hastings runner, finishing 24th overall in 16:44.2. She is a senior and it was her first year on the team.

"She played a big role for us," Dewall said. "She's a tough runner and was one of our top five scorers all year long. She just got better and better."

Senior Maddy O'Brien was the fourth Hastings runner, coming in 44th at 17:18.9.

O'Brien was not able to practice the past few weeks because of a heel injury. "What can I say?" Dewall said. "I've coached her for years, and she's just a great kid. A great leader. She had a great career for us. It's one of those unfortunate things. You get an injury that gives you a setback. For her to able to suck it up and get out there and throw in a performance like that, it's gutsy. She's just a super kid."

Brittany Huneke, a junior, had a big race for Hastings, scoring for the team with a 62nd place finish in 17:47.3.

"She came through," Dewall said. "You can tell she's a hockey gal -- she has a lot of guts. She came out and just raced tough. She was definitely a key to that meet for us."

Alicia Beattie, who missed a week recently because of the flu, placed 67th overall in 17:55.2. Beattie is a senior.

"She was a great leader for us, a great captain," Dewall said. "She scored tons of points for us. We're going to miss her."

Emily Hughes rounded out the Hastings team. The senior finished 97th in 21:44.4.

"Emily was a great girl to work with," Dewall said. "She's just a real nice kid. We'll miss having her back. She's just a great overall person to have on the team."

Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
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