Somerset boys make their move

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A middle of the pack finish for some teams might not bring a sense of accomplishment.

But you could see the surprise in the face of the Somerset boys when team standings were read off at the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet at Hayward last Friday.

Five teams were listed off before "Somerset" was announced. Three of those teams below the Spartans were Middle Border Conference opponents and two were teams that beat Somerset at the recent conference meet.

Beating Prescott, Ellsworth and Baldwin-Woodville, and finishing five points behind Amery, gave the Spartans validation that their team is moving in the right direction. That result was produced with one senior in the lineup. Seth Erickson was Somerset's top finisher with his 38th-place finish. Close behind him was a pack of Spartans including freshman Zach Maitrejean, sophomore Tyler Hantsbarger, freshman Thor Sanders and junior Ben Schmitt. Somerset coach Abby Christensen sees those four runners as a substantial group to build the program around in 2018.

"Future-wise, we saw some really good things," Christensen said.

And with sophomore Alex DeGeest and freshman Eric Forsberg as the team's sixth and seventh runners, there are candidates to fill the fifth spot on the varsity team. Christensen said she hopes more boys can be recruited to add to the competition level, to keep pushing the team's pack of runners further toward the front of the conference pack.

The results for the Somerset girls really travel in two directions. The Spartan girls placed 13th out of the 14 teams at the meet. Christensen was eager to point out the improvement of the girls. Kristin Vensland continued to emerge as the team's leader, placing 52nd. Christensen was pleased that Liv Hoff showed the courage to run with Vensland and take another step in her progress. With sophomore Brycen Chladek, freshman Katie Schroeder, sophomore Allison Struemke and junior Kaylee Erickson, the Spartans have a group that has made steady progress while still learning the finer points of distance running.

The seventh runner for the Spartans at the sectional meet was senior Anya Swanson. Yes, the three-time state qualifier. Despite having a fracture in her hip, Swanson elected to run the race. Really, she hobbled. But she did it with a smile on her face throughout the race. And even with the muscles not firing her hip, she was able to defeat two other runners.

"It was fun to watch her run one more time," Christensen said. "It was nice to see her get closure."