Cross country: Raiders hope to qualify for state meetMake no mistake about it: The Hastings girls cross country team has one goal entering today’s section meet in Owatonna. They want to qualify for the state meet.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Make no mistake about it: The Hastings girls cross country team has one goal entering today’s section meet in Owatonna. They want to qualify for the state meet.
It’s that simple for the Raiders, who have had a strong season, nearly cracking the statewide rankings on multiple occasions. That said, being one of the top two teams in the Section 1AA meet at Brooktree Golf Course won’t be easy. A total of 14 teams make up the field, including the two Lakeville schools and the three Rochester schools.
In the most recent statewide polls, Lakeville South is the No. 5-ranked team and Lakeville North is No. 11. But those numbers don’t matter much to longtime Hastings’ coach John Dewall.
“It doesn’t matter who has done what on paper,” Dewall said. “We’ll throw everything out. We’ll see who can handle the pressure and who can be confident going into that race.
“It’s going to be a battle, obviously, but anything can happen. If we can get it all together there, it would be pretty fun.”
The varsity girls race is at 4 p.m.
The top two teams, and the top 10 individuals, all advance to the state meet.
The Hastings girls placed third at the Suburban East Conference meet Oct. 20 at Falcon Ridge Golf Course in the northern suburbs.
Hastings was led by senior Kelly Pechous, who finished fourth overall in 14 minutes, 48 seconds.
“Kelly had a fantastic race,” Dewall said. “She ran hard from the get-go and held her pace the whole way. She was strong from the beginning to the end.”
Freshman Bri Strandberg finished 10th in 14:59.
“Bri ran tough,” Dewall said. “Both her and Kelly have done really well here the last half of the season. They’re obviously going to lead this girls team at the section meet.”
Pechous and Strandberg both earned all conference honors.
Clarese Mancl, a senior, finished 21st overall in 15:15, earning all conference honorable mention honors.
Senior Maddy O’Brien was 28th with a time of 15:38.
O’Brien has been slowed recently with an Achilles problem. She has been racing, but hasn’t been able to practice.
Alicia Beattie, a senior, was the fifth Hastings finisher, taking 44th in 16:31.
“She’s coming back from the flu,” Dewall said. “She’s feeling better now, and we’ll see what happens Thursday.”
Seniors Brittney Huneke and Nicole Gaertner rounded out the Hastings lineup. Huneke took 53rd in 16:52 and Gaertner was 61st in 17:56.
The Hastings boys team doesn’t have as strong a section, at least in terms of ranked teams, but that doesn’t mean qualifying for the state meet will be an easy thing to do. Hastings is on the outside looking in when it comes to finishing as one of the top two teams.
Lakeville North is the conference favorite. They are the No. 9-ranked team in the state.
Hastings, though, will have a good shot at qualifying runners for the individual state meet.
The Raiders’ best shot will be Mike Rough. He missed the first three weeks of the season with an injury, but has come on strong lately.
“He had a rough season,” Dewall said. “He was injured for three weeks, and he’s been trying to make up a lot of ground. He did very well at the conference meet. A lot of kids try to come back too fast. He didn’t.
“He’s all pumped up. He’s looking forward to racing sections and hopefully getting back to the state meet.”
The boys race begins at 3:30 p.m.
Hastings placed eighth at the Suburban East Conference meet last week.
Rough led Hastings with a ninth-place finish in 16:14, earning all conference honors.
“He had a fantastic day,” Dewall said. “We knew he had it in him.”
Wyatt Behrends took 46th in 17:33; Chase Keilers was 47th in 17:33; Zach Benning was 55th in 18:12 and Matt Rogness rounded out the scoring with a 57th-place finish in 18:33. Jon Erickson also ran for Hastings. He took 69th in 20:22.
The Hastings girls junior varsity team had members run in the JV conference meet. Results went like this:
Emily Hughes, 114th, 20:23; Haleigh Miller, 137th, 21:27; Kacie Perkins, 138th, 21:36; Sirada Bunsermvicha, 139th, 23:11.
For the boys, the JV results went like this:
Tom Shingledecker, 49th, 18:40; Christian Weiland, 96th, 19:26; D.J. Yandrasits, 101st, 19:31; Matt Sullivan, 162nd, 20:45; Peter Dance, 164th, 20:47; Jeremy Venhuizen, 174th, 21:00; Kyle Stapleton, 196th, 21:44.