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Somerset's Emerson gets to start in first year of CC

Somerset sophomore Monica Emerson (177) advanced to state in her first year of running cross country.

There are athletes that emerge every year and become forces within their sport.

Somerset sophomore Monica Emerson is a prime example.

In her first year of competing in cross country, Emerson qualified for the 2008 WIAA State Cross Country Championships that were held on Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids. Emerson continued to advance her skills, placing 70th among 152 runners in the girls Division 2 state race.

The Middle Border Conference girls gave an outstanding showing at the state meet and Emerson was part of that success. MBC champion Kayla Wagner of Baldwin-Woodville placed second in the Division 2 state race and Osceola's Brea Tinney was fourth in this race.

Emerson was the sixth finisher among MBC girls in the state meet and four of those five conference girls in front of her were seniors.

Emerson had a strong support system at the state meet. Current team captain Nicole Donohoe and three of next year's captains, Casey Land, Annie Plourde and Tia Belter, accompanied Emerson through all of her warmups for the race.

Spartan coach Diane Belter said her concern was that Emerson would go out to strongly at the start of the race.

"If you start that race too hard it will bite you. That second half (of the course) is tough," Belter said.

Emerson did start the race a bit too aggressively and it caused her to fade a bit as she went through the numerous hills in the second half of the course. But as the runners approached the final hill that leads into the home stretch, Emerson made a strong final kick and was able to pass by a group of runners to move back up to 70th.

"Monica does have a pretty good good kick. She's got some natural speed that'll help her in that area," Coach Belter said.

Belter praised Emerson's attitude. She has a bit of a wide-eyed innocence and willingness to listen and trust that coaches love to see in their athletes. That attitude helped her achieve a great deal, especially when you consider that she'd never run further than a mile competitively before the start of this season.

"No matter what I asked her to do, she fulfilled it," Belter said. "For a first-year cross country runner she did incredibly well."

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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