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Amery Invitational preps runners for conference meets

New Richmond runners (l-r) Amanda Anez, Ari Ziemer, Harley Leavens and Audrey DeKock begin their charge in the final stretch of the Amery Invitational last Tuesday.

The Amery Invitational has become the traditional final prep race for most area cross country teams before their conference meets.

And in the years like this one, where Amery also is the site for the Middle Border Conference meet, this late chance to get to know the Amery course could be even more beneficial.

The New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central teams all ran in last Tuesday's Amery Invitational. New Richmond and Somerset will be running at Amery again this Thursday in the 2012 Middle Border Conference meet. Central will be competing in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference meet in Mondovi on Thursday.

New Richmond's boys and girls both earned second place finishes in the Amery Invitational, running in 18-team fields. New Richmond's boys ranked second behind Minnehaha Academy, while the Tiger girls were a close second behind Amery.

Both New Richmond teams are aiming to finish at the top of Thursday's MBC meet. The Tiger boys got a huge lift with the return of senior Alex Charbonneau last Tuesday. With Charbonneau healthy, the Tiger boys appear to be ranked among the favorites in the boys conference race.

Tiger coach Beth Kelly said she expects Ellsworth to be the primary opponent for the boys team in its quest or a conference title.

The Tiger girls are hoping to continue the lengthy run of conference titles the program has built, but it won't be easy. The Tigers were beaten by Amery on Tuesday and Osceola is another team that is a serious threat to capture the title. Maddie Kelly, Shelby Rolland and Ellen Meisner have become a powerhouse top three for the Tigers and they all finished strongly to pass a number of runners at Amery. For the Tigers to have their optimal conference meet, they need fourth and fifth runners to have significantly improved races.

Somerset's boys are another team looking to have a much larger impact at the conference meet than in recent years. Spartan coach Julie Mocadlo said the Spartans are aiming to finish in the top three at this year's meet.

The boys team was led by freshman Brandon Mondor at Amery. Mocadlo said she is looking for Mondor and senior Josh Verdeja to be the team's top runners at the conference race, expecting that they will lead the other runners to strong finishes.

The bright spot for the Spartan girls at Amery was senior Grace Becher, who made a significant improvement in her time to place 24th. Mocadlo said she hopes that Becher can run well enough on Thursday to earn all-conference honors.

Mocadlo said the goal for the rest of the girls is to improve on their times.

St. Croix Central's boys and girls are both competing in strong D-SC fields on Thursday. The Panther boys have been putting together strong showings in most of their races, but they will have to make a big step up to catch the boys from Colfax. Central's girls have been showing signs of improvement lately, but it appears that Spring Valley will be nearly impossible for any girls team to catch in the D-SC meet.

2012 Amery Cross Country Invitational

Boys Team Scores: Minnehaha Academy 39, New Richmond 106, Grantsburg 115, Unity-Luck 146, Amery 160, Webster 187, St. Croix Falls 205, Somerset 218, Boyceville 242, Glenwood City 248, Baldwin-Woodville 274, Rice Lake 307, Prescott 336, Osceola 352, Elmwood 361, Spring Valley 408, Bruce 433, New Auburn 531

New Richmond finishes

11. Alex Charbonneau 18:09; 12. Jack Utzman 18:12; 26. Bailey Wilson 19:02; 28. Austin Haseleu 19:11; 29. Erik Gilkison 19:12, 40. Zach Schoepke 19:33; 65. Sam Krueger 20:36

Somerset finishes

22. Brandon Mondor 18:47; 45. Andrew Thurmes 19:45; 46. Keenan Strom 19:45; 50. Josh Verdeja 19:55; 55. Ethan Baillargeon 20:10; 70. Emmitt Foster 20:44; 89. Austin Headlee 21:56

St. Croix Central finishes

38. Brett Briggs 19:18; 45. Jordan Bringgold 19:33; 67. Nathan Bringgold 20:20; 80. Logan Nelson 20:55

Girls team scores: Amery 77, New Richmond 85, Rice Lake 106, Osceola 111, Prescott 146, Baldwin-Woodville 170, Flambeau 172, Minnehaha Academy 205, Glenwood City 206, Elmwood 275, Webster 278, St. Croix Central 286, Somerset 324, Boyceville 372

New Richmond finishes

4. Maddie Kelly 16:53; 7. Shelby Rolland 16:59; 9. Ellen Meisner 17:11; 32. Ari Ziemer 18:16; 33. Anne Frank 18:16; 34. Amanda Anez 18:17; 35. Harley Leavens 18:17

St. Croix Central finishes

26. Courtney Kramer 18:03; 56. Hope Hoolihan 19:00; 63. Lauren Moll 19:37; 73. Ella Scott 20:41; 74. Mckenzy Johnson 20:41; 77. Abbie Webb 20:54; 87. Ashley Kopacz 25:39

Somerset finishes

24. Grace Becher 18:02; 65. Yosselyn Moncada 19:42; 76. Carrie Kulibert 20:50; 78. Maggie Becher 21:01; 81. Laura Smith 22:00