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Belter earns first trip to state cross country meet

St. Croix Central's Abby Delander and Somerset's Sarah Henry (right) complete in the sleet storm during the Amery cross country sectional meet.

The Somerset girls cross country team was hoping to get two girls into this Saturday's WIAA State Cross Country Championships.

They were halfway successful.

Sophomore Tia Belter earned her way into her first state cross country meet by placing third in last Friday's Division 2 sectional meet in Amery. The Spartans had hoped to get junior Monica Emerson back to state after reaching the meet as a sophomore. Emerson wasn't quite able to make it back. A spill on the slippery course dropped Emerson back to 15th, leaving her just outside the list of state qualifiers.

"It was bitterly sweet," said Somerset coach Diane Belter.

The Spartan lead runners were aiming to stay among the top five runners throughout the race to lock in their places in the state meet. Belter was able to do that. They were running together until Emerson took a fall on one of the slippery slopes. Friday's race was run in exceedingly cold, damp weather with a rain-snow mix falling for most of the afternoon.

"A fall like that shakes you up, especially going down hill with girls right behind you," Coach Belter said. "Snow was accumulating on the bottom of their spikes."

The girls were hoping they'd be able to compete for the second team spot that advanced from the sectional to state. Northwestern was a lock for the first place, winning the meet with 56 points. The girls ended up taking fifth place among 16 teams in the meet.

State goals

Tia Belter will be running at state for the first time, but the state experience is not new to the Belter family. Her older sister, Cambrya, ran at the state meet. Belter is one of four Middle Border Conference runners who reached state as individual qualifiers. They will be starting from the same lane, so she will have familiar runners she can gauge herself against.

"The biggest thing is that she runs her race and doesn't let other people affect her," Coach Belter said. "I don't want her to be overly cautious."

Spartan boys

Somerset's boys placed 12th among the 16 teams at the sectional meet. They were within eight points of catching two more teams, showing the progress they've made through the season.

"They ran out of their comfort zone more than ever before," Coach Belter said.

Dakota Belter and Jake Wishard went back-and-forth as the Spartans' lead runner in the race. In the home stretch it was Wishard who had a strong kick, placing 52nd overall. Belter was five seconds behind him in 54th place.

Joe Germain and Gavin Germain worked together to run solidly as the Spartans' third and fourth runners.

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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