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Panthers go second, third at home invite

St. Croix Central senior Derek Rock (front) is working through an early-season hip issue this season. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The good news is the St. Croix Central cross country teams put together second and third place finishes in their 11-team home invitational.

The unfortunate news is that Central senior Liv Moll was unable to complete the race.

Even without Moll, the Central girls were able to take second place among a field of strong teams. The Central boys also faced a quality group of opponents and took third place.

Moll's inability to complete the race left everyone concerned. As one of the standout runners in the area, she was leading for the first half of the race, trying to defeat defending race champion Anya Swanson of Somerset. With about a mile left in the race, as Swanson was passing her, Moll dropped.

"She never lost consciousness," said Central coach Bill Emery, but saying she "lost coherence."

Emery said doctors haven't been able to find a reason why Moll as dropped out of several races in similar fashion during her career. He said it is not a reflection of her toughness.

"She's as tough as nails," Emery said.

With Moll not finishing, the team's fate dropped to the other girls. Emery has been saying he has five "number two" girls and they all were needed. Junior Marie Hamlin began to emerge as a powerful runner in track last spring. Let's just say, she's now fully emerged. Hamlin was strong and steady, finishing fourth to lead the Panthers.

"She's really strong, in terms of being in shape," Emery said.

Central freshman Sydney Carlson was close behind, placing sixth. Junior Claire Moll was 11th, freshman Mya Kizer was 13th, and juniors Mariah Withuski and Kourtney Labeause were 14th and 16th.

Emery was particularly impressed by the performance of Carlson and Kizer in their first high school races.

"I knew they were strong, but not that strong," Emery said of the freshmen.

The Panther boys also featured a young group in their top seven. There were two seniors, three sophomores and three freshmen that comprised Central's varsity group.

Sophomore Erik Collins and senior Will Spitzmueller were Central's leaders, with Collins placing tenth and Spitzmueller 14th. Freshman Micah Larson, senior Spencer Goodwin and freshman Cougar Holder all ranked among the top 23 to round out the Panthers' five scoring positions.

The Panther boys weren't at full strength for this meet. Emery said that two of the boys he expects to be among the top five runners for Central were hampered by injuries, with one not running at all.

There are two meets scheduled for the Panthers in the upcoming days. They will compete at Menomonie on Saturday, before running at Prescott next Tuesday.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.

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