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Benning qualifies for state cross country meet

Hastings will have one representative at the state cross country meet this weekend. Sophomore Zach Benning has qualified for the big race, which will be held Saturday morning at St. Olaf College.

Benning qualified by placing fifth in the Section 1AA meet at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna on Thursday. The top 10 finishers advance to the state meet.

"I was very, very happy to see him qualify," coach John Dewall said. "He took the lead right away. As coaches, we were a little scared. We thought he wsa going a little too fast out on his own, but he was able to hang on."

Benning led the race through the first 1.5 miles, but a small group reeled him in. Benning stayed with that group and qualified.

"He has the conditioning and the endurance to take it out and run on his own for a while, and still hang on," Dewall said. "It was a real exciting race for him. It's fun to have him going to state."

Benning's teammates fared well, too, with many turning in personal best times. The Hastings team finished 12th in the section out of 16 teams. Owatonna won the meet with 54 points and Rochester Mayo was second with 65.

Benning finished the 5K race in 16 minutes and 13.5 seconds.

Joe Rabaey placed 54th in 17:41.0. Colby Smith was 69th in 17:53.3, Christian Weiland was 85th in 18:12.8 and Jake Spitzack was 86th in 18:16.4.

Also running on varsity were: Ben Jackson, 105th, 19:01.9; and Austin Reuter, 106th, 19:13.2.


The Hastings girls also placed 12th out of 16 teams. Lakeville South won the race with 37 points, and Lakeville North was second with 100.

The Raiders were led by Michaela Mills, who was 36th in 15:46.5 on the 4K course.

"Michaela just had a super successful season," Dewall said. "For a 10th-grader to come out and put together such a string of top races throughout the year, that just shows she's a very dedicated and quality athlete."

Kiki Radke was 46th in 15:54.3; Bri Strandberg was 52nd in 15:57.4; Abberly Smith was 74th in 16:26.7; and Helen Jensen was 76th in 16:36.1.

Also racing were: Kailee Harrington, 79th, 16:41.2; and Kate Curtis, 80th, 16:43.9.

The Hastings girls didn't have a single senior in the lineup at the section meet, and there was only one junior (Strandberg).

"All these kids are young -- they're all going to be back," Dewall said.