In a tradition unlike any other, the Lakeland cross country team competed in the 63rd annual Bill Smiley Invitational Cross Country meet at Tribute Golf Course on Saturday morning.
Both the boys and girls fared well, with multiple runners in the top 15 overall. In addition, Ashley Peterson continued what has been an outstanding season thus far.
The Lakeland girls finished first amongst small division 1 schools with a team score of 44. The Lakeland boys finished sixth amongst small division 1 schools with a team score of 135.
“The girls overall ran really, really well,” coach Dan Claussen said. “Coming off the second week of school, homework and training, I thought they did a really good job coming to today and racing.”
Peterson finished first overall with a time of 19:42. She was one of two girls who ran the race under 20 minutes. It was Peterson’s second win of the season.
Aubrey Anderson finished fourth overall with a time of 20:16.1.
Kate Melms finished seventh overall with a time of 20:37.2.
“I thought Aubrey and Kate Melms had the two best performances of the varsity (team),” Claussen said.
Kate Vizanko finished 14th overall with a time of 22:02.5, one second better than the next best runner.
Rounding out Lakeland’s top five, Katie Tharman finished 18th overall with a time of 22:12.7.
“The game plan was having our top four together but when the gun came off, two of our top four got caught so they literally had to slow down,” Claussen said.
It was the freshman, Casey Van Hefty, who finished first for the boys, 10th overall with a time of 17:36.
Literally right behind him was Victor Masayesva with a time of 17:36.2, good for 11th overall.
“Our top two ran really well, both set PRs,” Claussen said.
Lakeland’s third best runner, Scott Balas, finished 33rd overall with a time of 18:58.4.
Sean Gardner finished fourth, 37th overall, with a time of 19:07.4.
“Sean Gardner ran really, really well. Sean did a really nice job,” Claussen said.
Rounding out Lakeland’s top five, Jake Van Hefty finished 44th overall with a time of 19:19.4.
But both teams are not satisfied and will continue to work hard as October approaches.
“We’ve still got some areas of improvement if we went to compete for championships at the end of the year,” Claussen said.
Up next, Claussen will bring two girls to a meet at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities on Saturday, Sept. 28.
After that, the Thunderbirds next meet as a whole comes Thursday, Oct. 3 at Black River Golf Course in Medford starting at 5 p.m.
“(Medford will) be a good meet. That’ll be a true test,” Claussen said. “It’ll be a small enough meet where we can see people and run with people and know what we need to do.”
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]