Anya Swanson wins MBC girls XC title; Division 2 sectional race is Friday
Somerset’s Anya Swanson faced an early challenger, but quickly pulled away from the pack to easily win the girls individual championship at the 2016 Middle Border Conference cross country championships last Thursday at Osceola.
Swanson becomes the first Somerset runner to win an MBC individual championship since Tia Belter won the girls MBC race in 2009.
Swanson was challenged by St. Croix Central’s Olivia Moll early in the race, but she quickly put a great deal of distance between her and any of her competitors. That distance continued to grow throughout the race. Swanson won the meet in 19:46. New Richmond’s Mallory Kelly took second place, 1:21 behind Swanson.
Swanson was second at the conference meet last year behind Amery’s Alicia Monson, who went on the win the WIAA Division 2 state championship. Swanson placed ninth at the conference meet as a freshman.
Led by Swanson, the Somerset girls were able to take seventh place, finishing five points ahead of Baldwin-Woodville. The Spartans were boosted by freshmen Brycen Chladek and Kristin Vensland, who ran personal best times to be the team’s second and third finishers.
The Somerset boys didn’t have as good a day as they’d hoped, taking eighth place but finishing five points out of sixth place.
Somerset coach Abby Christensen said she felt better about the boys finish once she saw their times. Seth Erickson placed 24th as the Spartans’ lead runner, but ran the second best time of his career. Tanner Getschel also showed progress as the team’s second runner, with freshmen Tyler Hantsbarger and Alex DeGeest showing continued progress as the team’s third and fourth runners.
The Spartans will be competing this Friday at the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet at the UW-Barron County campus in Rice Lake. Swanson has qualified for the state tournament each of the past two years and Christensen said Swanson is planning to stick to her personal race strategy. The strategy has been to run at the same pace the entire race and gradually work past the runners who try to start fast.
“This strategy has worked pretty well for her,” Christensen said. “That’s how she’s always run, coming from behind.”