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Benning places 39th at state CC meet

Zack Benning is pictured during Saturday's state cross country meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield. (Rivertown Newspaper Group photo by Nick Gerhardt)

Hastings High School sophomore Zack Benning had a successful trip to the state cross country meet on Saturday.

The lone Raider qualifier placed 39th out of 157 runners at the state meet, which was held at St. Olaf College. He finished with a time of 16 minutes and 27.3 seconds on the 5K course.

"It was absolutely incredible," coach John Dewall said. "He was in second place after two miles. You think about that, he's in second place of all those kids, it gives him the confidence that in another year, he'll be able to run with the best of the best. With some more conditioning and more experience, he'll be able to be right up there."

The winner was Josh Thorson of Wayzata, who finished in 15:29.9. Riley Macon of Rochester Mayo was second in 15:39.5.

Four Suburban East Conference schools fared well in the meet, with Stillwater winning it, White Bear Lake placing 12th, Mounds View 14th and Forest Lake 16th.

Dewall is hoping to get Benning back to the state meet next year, and he's hoping that Benning will be joined by at least a few teammates, too.

"He's a great kid to work with," Dewall said. "It has been a really fun experience to work with a kid like that who is so coachable. He's so eager to improve and to learn and stay focused. As a coach, he's the kind of kid that really makes you want to coach."