The Marshall girls' cross country team received news Tuesday morning that it had broken into the Class AA state rankings for the first time this season, and later in the afternoon, the Tigers solidified their status with a first-place finish at a seven-team meet in Montevideo.
With their top five runners placing in the top 11, the Tigers finished with a score of 34 to finish 17 points ahead of second-place Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd rounded out the top three teams with 73 points.
The Marshall boys' team tied with Montevideo atop the team standings with 50 points, but the host Thunder Hawks won the tiebreaker due to their sixth runner.
Marshall girls' head coach Marie Sample said the new state ranking and the win by her team on Tuesday were both well-earned.
"I've been pushing them really hard and they've been running with heavy legs. They're kind of cooked, both mentally and physically," Sample said. "I gave them the option not to run (Monday) and there was a chunk of them that went out anyways - they just can't take a break.
"They know they're getting their success from working hard, and therefore it's hard for them to take a break."
Seventh-grader Nichole Sample again led the charge for the Marshall girls, finishing second overall with a time of 15 minutes, 38 seconds. Senior Shyla Hansen followed in fourth place (15:56), freshman Rose Andersen finished seventh (16:09), eighth-grader Claire Boersma was 10th (16:17) and senior Madi Verschaetse crossed the line in 11th place (16:28).
Morris Area's Makenzie Smith won first place with her time of 15:30.
The Marshall runners have a big meet on Saturday when they head to Alexandria to run against multiple ranked teams in a nearly 30-team field. Marie Sample said she appreciates her runners' hard work this year, but said they also need to learn that rest and recovery are important as well.
"As we get closer to crunch time, I may have to force them to take breaks," Sample said. "It's a young team and they're willing to do anything I ask, they're very coachable. They just have to learn that rest is an important part of distance running, too."
Already missing senior runner Tanner Bukowski, who is out with a hip flexor injury, the Tiger boys were dealt another blow Tuesday when Wade DeAustin was unable to run. He was coming off an illness and warmed up with the team Tuesday, but told head coach Mike Jacobs he wouldn't be able to compete in the race.
Marshall did, however, get a runner back Tuesday, as junior Matt Christianson took part in the meet after having missed most of the season with an ankle injury. Christianson ran last week's meet in Buffalo in the junior varsity run to help build his stamina, and Tuesday he took part in the varsity race in Montevideo. He figured into the Tigers' top five runners, placing 26th with a time of 19:34.
"Buffalo probably wasn't the best course for him to run because it's just incredibly hilly, but he was our top JV guy and looked pretty good," Jacobs said of Christianson. "It's going to take a while for him to get back in the groove. Hopefully his ankle can get strong so he can get more consistent practices in. He was a guy who ran a lot over the summer and was in real good shape for us before his ankle injury."
Andrew Bell again paced the Tiges with a second-place finish. His time of 16:55 was 14 seconds back of winner Nick Stoks, of C/M/L. Marshall's Blaine Moran finished third (17:46), Mike Larson was seventh (18:06) and Chase VanKeulen placed 12th (18:48).
Jacobs said he was especially pleased with the runs by Larson and VanKeulen.
"It was looking like Monte was the team to beat and Chase was trailing to Monte guys," Jacobs said. "I implored him to get them and he got them. It was the same for Mike Larson. Those two guys did everything they could do and just had incredible runs to chase guys down."
The C/M/L boys' team had three runners place in the top 10. Joining Stoks among top finishers were McKinley Johansen (sixth, 18:02.2)?and Wyatt Johansen (ninth, 18:19.2).
The Lancer girls also had three top 10 finishers. Leah Jessen led the way with a third-place finish (15:42.1), Amanda Grengs took eighth (16:08.1)?and Natalie Dinius was ninth (16:13.8).
Girls Team Scores: 1. Marshall 34; 2. Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 51; 3. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 73; 4. Montevideo 97; 5. Morris 109; 6. Ortonville 176; 7. Yellow Medicine East 187.
Marshall Individual Results: 2. Nichole Sample 15:38; 4. Shyla Hansen 15:56; 7. Rose Andersen 16:09; 10. Claire Boersma 16:17; 11. Madi Verschaetse 16:28; 15. Jenna Christianson 16:51; 19. Sydney Blomme 17:18.
C/M/L Individual Results: 3. Leah Jessen 15:42.1; 8. Amanda Grengs 16:08.1; 9. Natalie Dinius 16:13.8; 13. Sydney Sisk 18:26.9; 18. Heidi Pavek 16:51.0; 29. Kalli Jelen 17:59.5; 30. Lauren Jessen 18:02.8.
Boys Team Results: 1. Montevideo 50; 2. Marshall 50; 3. Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 54; 4. Yellow Medicine East 123; 5. Morris 132; 6. BOLD/Buffalo Lake-Hector 139; 7. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 143; 8. Ortonville 197.
Marshall Individual Results: 2. Andrew Bell 16:55; 3. Blaine Moran 17:46; 7. Mike Larson 18:06; 12. Chase VanKeulen 18:48; 26. Matt Christianson 19:34; 29. Zach Drum 19:47; 49. Josh Boersma 22:47.
C/M/L Individual Results: 1. Nick Stoks 16:41.8; 6. McKinley Johansen 18:02.2; 9. Wyatt Johansen 18:19.2; 18. Joseph Bach 19:16.4; 20. Anthony Wollum 19:19.7; 24. Levi Citrowske 19:31.8; 30. Billy Deslauriers 19:47.9.