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Cross country: Boys show progress at section meet

Looking at only the team standings, a casual observer would see the Farmington boys cross country team slipped from eighth at last year's section meet to ninth at last Wednesday's Section 1AA Championships at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna.

But the team results don't tell the full story of just how much the program has improved in head coach Lisa Lippold's first season.

In placing eighth last fall, the Tigers were carried by a seventh-place finish from senior standout Elliot Fenske. The rest of the Farmington pack came in over 100 seconds later and none of the 2 through 7 runners broke the 18-minute barrier.

On Wednesday, the Tigers brought their top six runners across the finish line in a span of less than a minute, and all six of those runners clocked in at 17:52 or faster. They scored 260 team points, 18 more than eighth-place Northfield and eight fewer than 10th-place Winona. Host Owatonna scored 54 points and Rochester Mayo 65 to earn the two state spots among the 16-team field.

"The race went great for the boys. The boys all ran personal bests for the season and our 1-through-5 split was 55 seconds -- right where we wanted to see it," Lippold said. "They went out and competed and ran hard -- I am very pleased with the results."

Junior Jordan Lugowski paced the Tigers with a time of 16:56 on the 5,000-meter course, 30 seconds away from a top-10 finish and an individual state berth. He placed 31st out of 112 runners.

Sophomore Dan Block cut 59 seconds off his section meet time from a year ago as he placed 46th in 17:24. Tyler Lerbakken followed with a 57th-place time of 17:46 and senior Chad Retterath returned to the lineup to place 62nd in 17:49 in his final prep cross country race.

Junior Adam Wallenta provided the final counting score with a 64th-place 17:50. Sophomores Tanner Grubb (68th, 17:52) and Jake Rudeen (83rd, 18:09) filled out the varsity lineup for the young Tigers.

On the girls side, Farmington placed 14th out of 16 teams with 289 points. The Tigers were only 14 points off the pace of 11th-place Rochester John Marshall.

Lakeville South defeated Lakeville North 37-100 for the section title.

Freshman Sofia Chadwick once again set the pace for the Tigers. Coming off an 11th-place finish at the Missota Conference meet, Chadwick came in 27th out of 111 runners in 4,000-meter time of 15:39. Chadwick cut more than 70 seconds off her time at last year's section meet and missed a personal-best time by two seconds.

Teammate Maricia Pacheco was close behind, reaching the finish 32nd in a personal-record 15:43, and Maria Kiminski was 42nd in a personal-best time of 15:50.

"The difference I am seeing the most is their endurance on the course's hills and how the top three strive to stay together throughout the race," coach Heidi Revels said. "We need to continue to work on closing the gap between runners 3 and 4, and then between 4 and 5-6-7."

Then there was a 70-second span where no Tiger runners approached the finish line. Alexis Johnson finally ended the drought, coming in 92nd in 17:01. Fellow freshmen Sarah Cummings and Victoria Jacoby were close behind, placing 96th and 98th, in times of 17:09 and 17:11, respectively.

Ashley Durbin completed the lineup with a 109th-place time of 18:20.