Benning qualifies for state meet
Hastings High School junior Zack Benning won the section cross country title on Thursday in Owatonna, earning a trip to the state meet in the process.
Benning won the 5K race in 16 minutes and 11.3 seconds. He finished five seconds ahead of the second-place competitor.
"It was really exciting," coach John Dewall said. "For him to pull that off was remarkable. It was a remarkable deal down there.
Benning stayed with the lead pack for the first two miles.
"We had a point where we were going to tell him to go," Dewall said. "He was holding back those first two miles. We saw the guy we thought was going to be his main competition was struggling. We knew there weren't any other kids who could hang with him so with three-quarters of a mile to go, we told him, 'Go!'
"He took off and put 20 meters on the field right away. He just kept on going and outdistanced himself from everybody."
Benning, one of the top 10 runners in the state, will run at the state meet next Saturday, Nov. 3, at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The course is anything but new to Benning. He ran at the meet last year and has been practicing on the course.
"It's almost like a home course to him," Dewall said. "He knows it so well. We've planned ahead. We're looking forward to him doing real well down there. He's really psyched up. He's going to have a good meet down there.
"His legs are feeling good. He knows now he can go after it."
The Hastings boys team finished 15th out of 16 teams. The boys run a 5K race.
Owatonna won the meet and Century was second. They both advance to the state meet.
Benning was followed by:
Forrest Close, 80th, 18:15.0; Christian Weiland, 87th, 18:18.9; Jake Spitzack, 96th, 18:39.7; Austin Reuter, 98th, 18:47.6; and Nick Johnson, 106th, 19:50.7.
The Hastings girls placed 14th at the meet. Lakeville South was the meet winner, followed by Lakeville North. Both teams advance to the state meet.
Hastings was led by Ciara Christensen, a freshman, who finished 43rd in 16:24.6.
She was followed by:
Bri Strandberg, 51st, 16:39.1; Michaela Mills, 61st, 16:47.1; Rachel Peterson, 89th, 17:25.5; Quinn Myers, 101st, 17:59.8; Kate Curtis, 108th, 18:28.1; and Taylor Engstrom, 109th, 19:34.9.