Somerset boys prove it takes just five runners to be successful
All it takes is five runners for a team to have a major impact in a high school cross country race.
The Somerset boys have had a roster of five runners all season, but that did not limit the Spartans. Instead, they improved steadily, producing the best performance of their season in the 2013 Middle Border Conference meet at Durand last Thursday.
The Spartan boys were the surprise of the meet, moving up to take second place in their half of the meet. Three of Somerset’s five boys earned first team All-Middle Border Conference honors.
The Spartans were led by the trio of Cole Harty, Ethan Baillargeon and Brandon Mondor, who all were among the top seven finishers. They ran as a pack through much of the race, with Harty taking the lead of the trio. Somerset coach Julie Mocadlo said they ran with the goal of keeping the lead runners in sight.
Harty and Baillargeon finished shoulder-to-shoulder, with Harty placing fourth and Baillargeon fifth. Mondor was six seconds behind them to place seventh.
Harty and Mondor have been running in this range all season. The surprise was Baillargeon. In the previous week’s Amery Invitational, Baillargeon finished a minute behind Mondor.
“Ethan had an outstanding day. He really rose up to the challenge,” Mocadlo said.
The Spartans’ fourth and fifth runners, Noah Ashton and Austin Headlee, also showed marked improvements in their times in the conference meet. Ashton placed 24th and Headlee ranked 45th.
Somerset’s boys had gone into the meet hoping they could place in the top three, thinking New Richmond and Amery had a lock on the first two spots in the team rankings. When the results were read and it was announced that Amery had taken third, the Spartans knew they’d accomplished a major finish.
“It was a very nice surprise. They were super happy about their performance, knowing their work had paid off,” Mocadlo said.
Somerset’s girls were without two of their top runners because of injuries. They finished eighth in the final rankings, three points behind Durand.
The Spartans were led by freshman Jessie Swanson, who placed 30th. Senior Carrie Kulibert had one of the finest races of her career to place 36th.
“It was one of those special moments for a senior. Carrie’s had to overcome a lot of obstacles. She ran a great race,” Mocadlo said.
Four juniors filled out the rest of the varsity lineup for the Spartans. Lauren Sandy placed 40th, Katie Berg 42nd, Maggie Becher 46th and Laura Smith 52nd.
This Friday the Somerset teams will run in the Amery Division 2 sectional cross country meet. The girls race is slated for a 4 p.m. start time, followed by the boys race at 4:45 p.m. The Spartans know the course after running in the Amery Invitational on Oct. 8 and they’ve seen a number of the top opponents during their season of races.
Mocadlo said the goal is to see if the Spartans can get some runners to qualify for state. The top two teams in the sectional races and top five individuals not on those teams qualify for the state meet.
“We’re going with the expectation of running a strong, smart race. The boys would have to have a perfect day, but you never know,” she ventured.
She said the goal for the girls is the same as they conference meet, where the focus on improvement led most of the girls to produce their best races of the season.