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Somerset cross country runners beginning to see progress

Somerset’s Ethan Baillargeon (2729) maintains a pace to stay ahead of a large pack of runners during the Osceola Invitational cross country meet on Saturday.

The two meets run by the Somerset cross country team shows how the team is progressing in competitiveness and mental toughness.

The Somerset boys may only have five runners, but they placed third in the large school division at the Osceola Invitational on Saturday. The Spartan girls ran sixth in that division Saturday, but gave more indications that they are ready to move up in the pack.

The Spartan boys were led by the trio of Brandon Mondor, Cole Harty and Ethan Baillargeon. Somerset coach Julie Mocadlo challenged them to get out to stronger starts in Saturday’s meet and it paid dividends. Mondor was 12th among the 149 runners, Harty 19th and Baillargeon 23rd. That was a strong bounce-back effort for Baillargeon, who’d struggled a bit in his past two meets.

Noah Ashton placed 59th and Austin Headlee 104th for the Spartans.

The Spartan girls had several reasons for optimism in this race. The first was Jesse Swanson, who finished 58th to lead the Spartans.

“Two weeks ago her goal was to not walk (during a race) and now she’s our lead runner. It was really encouraging,” Mocadlo said.

If you want toughness, Bailey Johnston is your poster girl. She fractured her elbow earlier in the week and she still insisted that she would run on Saturday. She was Somerset’s second runner, finishing 63rd.

“She showed how committed she is to cross country. The pain had to be tough for her,” Mocadlo said.

Johnston had tried running with a brace after the injury and found it uncomfortable and She decided against having the elbow taped for the race.

The Spartans also ran in the Rice Lake Invitational last Tuesday. This proved to be a bit more of a challenging meet for the Spartans. Mocadlo said running in this field of 40-plus teams was good preparation for running in the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota this Saturday.

There were some highlights in the meet. Harty was the boys’ leading runner, working hard in the middle portion of the race to move up in the field of runners.

Mocadlo said junior Carrie Kulibert started the race strongly and maintained the improvement throughout the race. Mocadlo said the improvement shown by Swanson and Kulibert in the races last week is what the girls need to be more competitive with the other teams in the Middle Border Conference.

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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