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Somerset runners show their best is on the horizon

Somerset senior Carrie Kulibert (636) and teammate Katie Berg work toward the finish during the Amery Division 2 sectional cross country meet on Friday. 1 / 3
Sophomore Ethan Baillargeon finished three runners shy of qualifying for the state cross country meet, finishing ninth in the boys Division 2 sectional race on Friday at Amery. 2 / 3
Jessie Swanson (639) was the leading runner for the Somerset girls in the Amery Division 2 sectional meet.3 / 3

The season ended too soon for the Somerset boys cross country team, which was hoping to pull off a miracle and qualify for the WIAA state championships.

The Spartans finished tied for sixth in the Amery Division 2 sectional meet on Friday. The Spartans nearly had an individual qualify for state. Sophomore Ethan Baillargeon made a huge charge in the second half of the race to move up to ninth place in the final results. Baillargeon missed qualifying for state by three places. The sixth place finisher was the final individual to qualify for the state meet from the sectional.

Baillargeon, Brandon Mondor and Cole Harty have had a splendid season for the Spartans as sophomores. Mondor placed 14th at the sectional and Harty took 20th.

“Not moving on (to state) hit them hard,” said Somerset coach Julie Mocadlo.

The Spartan trio held back at the start of the race and had to work their way up from the middle of the pack. Mocadlo said the lead runners went out at an incredible pace in the sectional race. With the relative youth of the three sophomores, they aren’t built for fast starts yet, Mocadlo said. Instead, they waited for the rest of the pack to set its pace, then gradually moved up throughout the race.

With the trio of sophomores packaged with juniors Noah Ashton and Austin Headlee, the Spartan lineup should return intact next season. Mocadlo said that if a few more boys can be recruited to the team, the team has the capability to fulfill their hopes for next season.

“They are going to be stronger,” Mocadlo said. “If they can run together next summer, they can be better next year.”

The Somerset girls placed 13th out of 15 teams in the sectional, but defeating two teams had the girls upbeat about the progress they’ve made.

“They came out more happy than the boys. They seemed more optimistic with how they ran,” Mocadlo said.

First-year runner Jessie Swanson was the Spartans’ lead runner, placing 57th. Carrie Kulibert, the only senior on either Somerset team, ran one of her best races to place 66th. Katie Berg was three seconds behind her in 68th. Lauren Sandy was seven seconds behind Berg, taking 70th and Maggie Becher was eight seconds behind Sandy, placing 75th.

The Spartans had a big influx of girls from the soccer team this season. Mocadlo said Kulibert was the  person who did most of the recruiting to get soccer players involved in running.

“Carrie was a great leader for us,” Mocadlo said.

Mocadlo said she hopes the soccer girls see a benefit from being in cross country and it causes the link between the teams to continue to grow. She said the team has potential to be much more impactful next season, but the girls will all need to bring their speed up a notch.

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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