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Girls cross country: Tigers improve to 9th place despite muddy conditions

The Farmington girls cross country team accomplished first-year head coach Heidi Revels' goal of improving on last year's 11th-place section finish with a ninth-place showing at last Thursday's Section 1AA Championships on a muddy and rainy Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna.

The Tigers, who scored an even 300 points at last year's meet, got their top five runners to the finish line in a span of one minute and scored 260 team points. They would have been in position to vault Rochester Century and move into eighth place had eighth-grader Maricia Pacheco -- usually one of the team's top three runners -- not battled illness and fallen to the No. 5 spot.

"Under the weather conditions, I am very happy with how the team performed," Revels said. "The course was very wet and slippery with mud in many spots, causing some girls to wipe out."

One of those girls was sophomore Bailey Opsal, who got out to a fast start, then fell twice before recovering for a 41st-place time of 17:15. Junior Nicole Clifton finished seven seconds ahead of Opsal to earn 37th out of 97 runners in 17:08.

With Pacheco fading, the Tigers' No. 3 score came from another eighth-grader, Maddie Strid, who reached the finish line 53rd in 17:32.

"Strid's goal earlier in the season was to be within the top five of our team, and she has consistently reached her goal for most of the meets," Revels said. "She works hard during training and I have seen her confidence improve, as well."

Another consistent scorer, freshman Maria Kiminski, placed fourth in the Tiger lineup and 58th overall in 17:41 and Pacheco rounded out the top five with a 71st-place time of 18:07.

"She obviously wasn't feeling well shortly into the race and was very disappointed in how she finished," Revels said. "However, she had an amazing season, with significant improvements in her time on most of her races."

Farmington was also represented by Marissa Stewart, who was 73rd in 18:13, and Sofia Chadwick, who was 93rd in 19:42.

Lakeville South placed four runners in the top 10 and qualified as a team for this weekend's state meet in Northfield with a 37-57 victory over runner-up Lakeville North.