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Spartan runners ready for rest

Freshman Katie Schroeder (right) is one of several young runners who has made a strong impact for the Somerset cross country team this season. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

When the Somerset cross country team competes at this Saturday's New Richmond Invitational, it will end a 12-day span between meets for the Spartans.

Somerset coach Abby Christensen said the break couldn't come at a better time.

The Spartans ran last Tuesday at the Barron Invitational. Christensen said many of the Spartans looked tired and the nearly two-week break will give the runners ample time to rest their bodies for the team's upcoming major meets.

In last Tuesday's meet at Barron, the Spartan girls placed sixth among 12 teams, while the boys team ranked ninth. Somerset senior Anya Swanson added another victory to her incredible season. She covered the course in 23:04, finishing 16 seconds ahead of second place Anna Penzkover of Rice Lake.

The mental fatigue of this race showed in the Spartans when they began seeing their times, and they all looked slower than usual. It wasn't until after the race that they were informed the course is about 400 meters longer than the usual course. Barron had to alter its course because of recent rains, forcing the layout to be longer than usual.

Christensen said the Spartans can't just base their performances each race on their times, because course lengths vary. She said the sectional meet course that will be run at Hayward will be 150 yards longer than normal. Hayward received approval to use the longer course because it is in a county park and can't be altered.

Swanson's win was a welcomed sight for the Spartans. She sat out the previous meet to deal with leg pain.

"She looked strong," Christensen said. "She has been doing some cross training for her legs."

The sophomore trio of Brycen Chladek, Liv Hoff and Kristen Vensland ran in a pack, placing 39th to 41st. Katie Schroeder was Somerset's fifth runner, placing 62nd. Christensen said she's hopeful that Schroeder, a freshman, will be able to move up and run with the trio of sophomores.

The Somerset boys ran without Seth Erickson and Thor Sanders, but showed improving depth that will make them more of a factor later this season. Zach Maitrejean, in his second high school race, was Somerset's top finisher, placing 23rd. Ben Schmitt and Tyler Hantsbarger were seconds behind him.

Sophomore Alex DeGeest and freshman Eric Forsberg moved up to the fourth and fifth scoring positions. Christensen said Forsberg is starting to grasp what it takes to be a competitive runner.

"You can see him learning," she said. "He's super coachable and he's got a lot of potential."

The Spartans' lengthy break will end this Saturday when they run in the New Richmond Invitational, which begins at 11 a.m. The Spartans will get a first-hand view of the sectional meet course next Tuesday when they run at the Hayward Invitational.

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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