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Off to the races

October 01, 2019 by Brett LaBore

Performing on the biggest stage in sports is not only exciting, but gives one a chance to compete with the best and put their training to the test.

Two girls of the Lakeland cross country team performed on that big stage. Ashley Peterson and Aubrey Anderson competed at the Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Cross Country Course in Minneapolis on Saturday. 

“The purpose is to give them some exposure to a national caliber cross country meet,” coach Dan Claussen said. “That’s kinda of what we do in track, too. We want to give them some exposure because both girls are interested in running at the next level at the high college level.”

The University of Minnesota hosted the meet as both girls competed in the girl’s gold 5K race. 

Top teams from around the country participated in the meet. There were teams from California, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska among others in the Invitational.

Coming off a win at the Smiley Invitational last week, Ashley Peterson finished 92nd overall with a time of 20:09.8.

“(Ashley) ran better than she did last week,” Claussen said. “She’s been training really, really hard. She just got caught up in what she thought she could do and she was able to do it up to two miles and then she fell apart which is fine. It gives you an understanding of where she is and her training.”

Aubrey Anderson finished 125th overall with a time of 20:27.5.

“Aubrey has ran her third race in a row where she ran really, really good,” Claussen said. “She stays within herself, pushed herself, but stayed within herself. Running in that field, under those conditions, I thought she ran outstanding. When we get back to normal racing and get back to plan stuff, she’s going to have a great rest of the year.”

The big picture sees this meet as exposure to bigger meets, a way to give them confidence moving forward.

“I think when you take a look at the big picture, it should give them confidence that ‘we’ve gone to a national caliber meet and we were able to do that’,” Claussen said. “When we go down to a conference or state meet, they should relatively calm down with their nerves because they’ve already gone to a national caliber meet.”

Up next, the Thunderbirds travel to Black River Golf Course in Medford for an invitational on Thursday, Oct. 3 starting at 5 p.m.

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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