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Spartans finish six points out of fourth place

Sophomore Liv Hoff has been an excellent addition to the Somerset girls cross country team this season. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The tightest pack of teams at the Middle Border Conference cross country meet wasn't a battle for the team or individual championships.

The best battle of the day was the battle for fourth place in the boys team competition. Four teams were separated by six points as they battled to finish in the top half of the pack at the 2017 MBC meet, held last Thursday at the Prescott Intermediate School.

Unfortunately for the Somerset boys, they finished at the back of that tightly packed group of teams. Somerset finished with 141 points in seventh place. Prescott, with 135 points, took fourth. Ellsworth was fifth with 137 points and Amery was sixth with 139 points.

Somerset coach Abby Christensen said the boys were disappointed because getting to fourth place was the team's goal. While they fell short of their goal, Christensen was enthused about the team's performance.

"A lot of good things happened. They were really racing," Christensen said. "To finish six points out of fourth with a very rookie team, I'm excited."

Freshman Zach Maitrejean, who joined the Spartans early in the season, was the team's leading finisher, ranking 19th. Junior Ben Schmitt was 23rd. Seth Erickson, the only senior in the Spartan lineup, placed 28th. The final four Somerset runners were all underclassmen. Freshman Thor Sanders was 32nd, sophomore Tyler Hantsbarger was 39th, sophomore Alex DeGeest was 45th and freshman Eric Forsberg was 49th.

The Spartan girls ended up eighth in the meet. With defending MBC champion Anya Swanson unable to run due to injury, the Spartans were left with an extremely young lineup. Their top five runners were all freshmen or sophomores. That was led by sophomores Kristin Vensland, Brycen Chladek and Liv Hoff, who all ran the best times of their careers at the conference meet, with all three getting under 24 minutes. Freshman Katie Schroeder was the fourth runner and sophomore Allison Struemke was the fifth Spartan. All the Spartans improved their times, led by Struemke, who cut more than a minute off her best time.

Junior Kaylee Erickson and senior Rachel Germain were the Spartans' sixth and seventh runners.

The Spartans will be competing this Friday at the Division 2 sectional meet at Hayward's Fish Hatchery Park. The girls race at 4 p.m. and the boys compete at 4:45. Christensen said the goal for the Spartan boys is to beat the teams who beat them at the MBC meet. The possibilities for the Spartan girls are far more up in the air. On Sunday, Swanson was given doctor's clearance to begin working out.

"She can start cross training and jogging," Christensen related. "It's not out of the question (that she'll compete). We'll see how her pain tolerance is."

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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