The Marshall boys' and girls' cross country teams started the 2012 season in a similar fashion to how they finished many of their meets last year - with wins.
A state qualifier from 2011, the Marshall boys' team placed first out of 12 squads in Monday's meet in Morris with 37 points. Rocori was second with 42 points, and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle came in third with 90 points.
Marshall's Andrew Bell was the top runner for the day, finishing the course in a time of 16 minutes, 52 seconds. Tiger runner Tanner Bukowski was third with a time of 17:40, Blaine Moran was fourth (17:51), Wade DeAustin finished 12th (18:30) and Mike Larson finished in 17th (18:51).
Marshall boys' coach Mike Jacobs said the race was tight between the top two teams through the first half of the race, but that the Tigers powered through to the finish to earn the win.
"I was really pleased with the effort they had," Jacobs said. "I think there were probably moments in that first half where we might have been down a point, but we kind of surged through in some pretty critical areas and showed a lot of fight. Even our last guys were running all the way through the chute.
"They showed a lot of pride and I think that carried over from last year."
Jacobs said the Tigers' times were typical for an early meet on a course as challenging as the one in Morris. He said there was a long hill that the runners had to negotiate twice, which resulted in slightly higher times. Jacobs said the conditions were also quite humid, which is not ideal for runners as it makes it more difficult to breath.
Along with being pleased with his runners' performances, Jacobs was also happy about the atmosphere that the team brought to its first meet.
"Our numbers are up at all levels, and there was probably more energy and excitement from Marshall as a collective group, boys and girls, than I've seen in some time," Jacobs said. "Today they showed they were proud to be Tigers by cheering for each other and they were just really engaged."
The Marshall Tigers girls' cross country team ran as a pack and finished in a pack on their way to first place in their first meet of the 2012 season.
Marshall runners took places five through seven and finished with a team score of 44. Rose Andersen, Claire Boersma and Shyla Hansen finished within six seconds of each other and paced a Tigers team that dominated its competition.
"I actually expected them to do that well," Marshall girls head coach Marie Sample said.
Andersen was the top Marshall runner, taking fifth place with a time of 16:37. Boersma finished three seconds after her, while Hansen came across the line at 16:43.
"The thing that I really told the girls to do, and what I've been trying to work on with them at practice, is trying to teach them to run as a pack," Sample said. "And that's what they did today. They went up front and they hung on to each other. We had our top five runners in fifth through 15th place. They had a pretty nice pack."
A surprise finish for the Tigers was senior Madi Verschaetse, who finished just outside of the top 10. Her time of 16:59 in her very first cross country meet was good enough for 11th place, fourth best for the Tigers.
Jenna Christianson finished fifth for the Tigers, and 15th overall, with a time of 17:24.
Second-place finisher Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd finished with 90 points. Rocori took third with 109 points, just ahead of Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg (114). Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta, the hosts, finished in fifth place with 122 points.
Marshall has 10 days until its next meet. The Tigers travel to Monticello on Sept. 6, where Sample hopes they will improve on their times from Monday.
"We're going to keep working," Sample said. "For a lot of these kids, it was their first meet. Once we get that under our belt ... now we can start visualizing what our goals are and what a race is like. Now I can start teaching them a little better about what we expect out there and how to race."
Girls Team Results: 1. Marshall 44; 2. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson Boyd; 3. Rocori 109; 4. Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg 114; 5. Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta 122; 6. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 146; 7. West Central/Evansville 220; Ortonville 230; Sauk Centre 234; 10. Ottertail Central 240; 11. New London-Spicer 271; 12. Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah 276; 13. Wadena-Deer Creek 295; 14. Wheaton 318; 15. Paynesville 330
Top 10 Individuals
1. Kristin Mehr (Rocori) 15:47; 2. Makenzie Smith (M/CA) 16:07; 3. Alaysia Freetly (LQPV-DB) 16:18; 4. Abigail VanKempen (WC/E) 16:23; 5. Rose Andersen (Marshall) 16:37; 6. Claire Boersma (Marshall) 16:40; 7. Shyla Hansen (Marshall) 16:43; 8. Kelly Kvaal (LQPV-DB) 16:48; Madison Greenwaldt (SC) 16:48; 10. Leah Tessem (B/KMS) 16:49.
Marshall Individual Results: 5. Rose Andersen 16:37; 6. Claire Boersma 16:40; 7. Shyla Hansen 16:43; 11. Madi Verschaetse 16:59; 15. Jenna Christianson 17:24; 23. Sarah Buysse 17:54; 34. Sarah Andersen 19:20.
Boys Team Scores: 1 Marshall 37; 2. Rocori 42; 3. Long Prairie Grey-Eagle 90; 4. Morris Area 122; 5. Otter Tail Central 141; 6. Sauk Centre 154; 7. New London-Spicer 171; 8. West Central Area 193; 9. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 226; 10. Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 250; 11. Ortonville 305; 12. Wheaton/Herman-Norcross 328.
Marshall Boys Individual Results: 1. Andrew Bell 16:52; 3. Tanner Bukowski 17:40; 4. Blaine Moran 17:51; 12. Wade DeAustin 18:30; 17. Mike Larson 18:51; 23. Matt Christianson 19:39; 35. Zach Drum 20:28.