The Farmington girls' cross country team took sixth out of 16 teams on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Class AA state cross country meet held at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Freshman Anne Fenske took second in her bid to repeat as state champion and junior Lauren Peterson finished sixth. As a team, the Tigers scored 168 points and were just 24 points out of fourth place.
Times for both girls and boys, in Class AA and A, were all much faster this year. Last year, Fenske won with a time of 17 minutes, 41.5 seconds. This year she ran a 17:34.87 in her runner-up finish while the winner, Emily Covert of Minneapolis Washburn, ran a 17:30.1. That time is the new Class AA girls state record since the race was extended to 5,000 meters for girls in 2015.
Peterson improved her time as well, if not her overall placement. Last season she finished second behind Fenske with a time of 18:17.1, while this year she improved her time by more than 10 seconds with a time of 18:06.
"I was looking at results from the last few years and this year and the whole state seemed to take a step forward," head coach Adam Lippold said. "To finish in the middle of the pack took a big time drop from previous years. I don't remember the weather being terrible last year, so maybe this year there are just a lot of talented teams. A lot of the teams are young so I think this is just a trend for the state of Minnesota, it's just going to continue to get faster and faster and teams are going to have to overcome a lot to accomplish things that were easier in years prior."
Junior Josie Laube took 74th with a time of 19:34.7 to earn 42 team points; freshman Laura McGregor finished in 105th and earned 58 points in 20:01.7; and fellow freshman Maleah Scott placed 112th (20:06.7) for 62 points. Pushers Anna Palodichuk (junior) and Kelsey Thelen (freshman) finished back-to-back in 171st and 172nd with times of 21:14.0 and 21:17.8 respectively.
"(They raced) really amazing," Lippold said. "Lauren, Josie and Maleah all ran season-best times, and that's the goal, to be your best at the end of the season. That was also Maleah's personal record. Sixth-place is really amazing, especially with the competition that state brings, and to feel like you were close to fourth place, all the girls left the awards banquet talking about next year already, so that was exciting."
Revels shows determination
Meanwhile, sophomore Noah Revels showed real heart and determination after facing adversity to start his race. Revels lost his shoe near the start and opted to continue running without it, which hampered his ability as the race went on. Despite the disappointing finish at state, Revels overcame an injury in the middle of the season and after missing the state tournament last year by one spot, left no doubt about his abilities when he took sixth at sections this year to qualify for the state tournament.
Lippold also reflected on the season as a whole, which he said was set-up by his team's willingness to really put in the work during the fall and in the off-season.
"We established a good foundation of work this year," he explained. "We intensified our summer training, attendance grew this year, we had a lot more kids coming to our Saturday morning practices and doing a lot more work over the weekend. We saw mileage grow as a whole for our whole team, so being on the outside looking in, these kids are seeing all this extra work is paying off. We're bringing home trophies from these big meets, we're in the state rankings, we went to the state meet and had success. They see that hard work and they see the benefits from it and it's just going to establish a better work ethic in our younger kids and hopefully that creates this turnover for us that leads to even more positive things. It was exciting, the kids worked really hard and for it to pay off, that's what you really hope for as a coach."
While both teams will lose seniors who contributed this past year and were captains, almost the entire core for each is returning for next year. None of the seven runners who competed at the state meet for the girls are graduating and only one of the boys who saw significant varsity time will graduate in Cole Stansbury.