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Swanson injured, could be done for season

With the injury to Anya Swanson, sophomore Kristen Vensland (above) stepped up to be Somerset's top runner at the New Richmond Invitational. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

It is unlikely that Somerset standout runner Anya Swanson will be able to run at the Middle Border Conference cross country meet and she may not be able to attempt advancing to her fourth straight WIAA State Cross Country Championship.

Swanson attempted to run at the New Richmond Invitational on Saturday, but had to pull out of the race. Somerset coach Abby Christensen said Swanson is dealing with a fracture in her hip growth plate and is now on crutches.

"She's been dealing with a lot of pain already," Christensen said. "She's been told no weight-bearing activities. The next two weeks will tell us a lot."

When the Spartans competed at the NRI on Saturday, they ran up against an extremely talented field of opponents. Most of the top teams from the Middle Border Conference were there, along with several of the top Big Rivers Conference teams. The Spartans had a number of major individual improvements, but team results were difficult to take. The Spartan boys were eighth among the nine teams and the girls, without Swanson to lead them, placed ninth.

The Spartan boys put together a strong top four on Saturday and are hoping to have Thor Sanders healthy for the Middle Border Conference meet. Freshman Zach Maitrejean continues to improve. He was Somerset's top finisher, placing 33rd. He broke the 19-minute mark for the first time, finishing in 18:33. Senior Seth Erickson placed 37th, giving the Spartans two sub-19 minute runners for the first time. Erickson finished in 18:57.

Tyler Hantsbarger and Ben Schmitt were solid as the Spartans' third and fourth runners. They ran together, finishing in 19:14, to place 41st and 42nd. Alex DeGeest stepped up into the fifth runner role, finishing in 20:20.

One of the most encouraging performances for the Spartans came from freshman Eric Forsberg. He cut more than a minute from his previous best time to finish as Somerset's sixth runner in 21:35.

Christensen said Sanders' return is important as the boys already are focusing on the conference meet, which will be run on Thursday, Oct. 12.

"The boys have made fourth their goal. I think it's a great something to reach for," Christensen said.

Christensen said the girls left Saturday's meet frustrated over their team finish, but said the times tell a different story. That starts with Kristen Vensland, who became Somerset's top finisher. She's never run a time below 25 minutes until Saturday, when she finished in 23:45.

Brycen Chladek and Liv Hoff also got under 25 minutes for the first time, Chladek in 24:28 and Hoff in 24:35.

"Kristen had an amazing race," Christensen said. "The work those three did was phenomenal."

The Spartans are now in a nine-day break before the conference meet.

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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