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Boys cross country: Pack continues to progress

The Farmington boys cross country team takes off from the starting line at last Tuesday's Missota Conference Championships at New Prague Golf Course. The Tigers used a fourth-place run from Elliot Fenske and a strong pack finish from runners two through five to finish fifth in the meet.

An advancing pack of four Farmington runners helped the Tigers edge Northfield and make up some ground on Shakopee at last Tuesday's Missota Conference Championships.

Dan Block, Ben Olson, Lincoln Kirchoff and Adam Wallenta all lowered their times and finished within a 16-second span in helping the Tigers finish fifth out of eight teams with 126 points in action at New Prague Golf Course.

Northfield also scored 126 points, but Farmington's No. 6 runner, Carl Elmer, recovered from a tough race with a gritty finish that brought him in 43rd, nine spots ahead of the Raiders' No. 6 runner, to give the Tigers the tie-breaker.

Red Wing placed five runners in the top 16 to defeat conference newcomer Chaska, 44-59, for its second straight team title. Chanhassen was third with 83 points and Shakopee placed fourth with 114 points.

Senior Elliot Fenske once again earned all-conference honors for the Tigers, covering the 5,000-meter course in a time of 16 minutes, 33 seconds and finishing in fourth place. Red Wing senior standout Bryant Blahnik, ranked ninth in the state in Class 2A, edged Shakopee's 12th-ranked Trent Lusignan by one second with a winning time of 16 flat and Nick Lindstrom of Shakopee was third in 16:23.

"Elliot ran well, just has the unfortunate situation of some elite runners all in the same conference," Farmington coach Keith Revels said. "The top four guys in the Missota should have a good showing in the state meet."

About a minute and a half after Fenske sprinted to the finish, the rest of the orange-and-black pack turned the final corner toward the chute. Block, just a freshman, picked up his pace in the final 50 meters to break the 18-minute mark with a 26th-place time of 17:59. Olson came in 11 seconds later to nab 30th place and Kirchoff and Wallenta weren't far behind, coming in 32nd and 34th in times of 18:11 and 18:15, respectively.

"A 16-second spread from two to five and times are coming down. Pretty good peformances, especially since Elmer cramped up," Revels said.

Elmer ran second for the Tigers during the first half of the race, but faded to a 43rd-place time of 18:46 after experiencing leg cramps.

"Carl toughed it out like he always does," Revels said. "I feel bad because he has been running really well for us."

Sophomore Alec Wilson rounded out the varsity lineup with a 50th-place time of 19:15.

The Tigers compete again this afternoon at the Section 1AA Championships at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna. The team's best chance at a state meet berth lies with Fenske, who finished fifth last season at Owatonna and went on to place 28th at the Class 2A State Meet.