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Class A state cross country: Luverne takes fourth in tiebreaker

NORTHFIELD -- Proving the importance of each one of the seven runners on a varsity cross country squad, Luverne utilized a key sixth-finisher performance Saturday afternoon from eighth-grader Claire Baustian to break a tie with perennial power Fa...

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DAN RING/WASECA COUNTY NEWS Luverne’s Gabi Ferrell pushes herself as she runs past a crowd of fans Saturday at the Class A State Cross Country Meet in Northfield. Ferrell helped the Cardinals to a fourth-place team finish.

NORTHFIELD - Proving the importance of each one of the seven runners on a varsity cross country squad, Luverne utilized a key sixth-finisher performance Saturday afternoon from eighth-grader Claire Baustian to break a tie with perennial power Fairmont and claim fourth place in the Class A girls’ team standings of the State High School Cross Country Meet at St. Olaf College.
When the final points were tabulated, both Luverne and Fairmont, the Section 2A champions, had posted scores of 168.
Luverne’s top five finished in team places 7-16-18-54-73, while Fairmont’s first five were 6-19-29-48-66.
When teams are tied, the deadlock is snapped by the best finish of each team’s sixth runner.
Saturday, Baustian ran a personal record (PR) time of 22:04.2 over the 5,000-meter course and her 84th place among team competitors was three spots better than Fairmont’s sixth runner (87), giving LHS the edge.
It was Luverne’s highest team performance in eight trips to the Class A event, bettering the fifth-place finish of the 2005 squad. The Cardinals were sixth in 2004 and seventh in both 2007 and 2013.
“I knew that Annandale and Perham both had run well and that Trinity (School at River Ridge, the defending team champions) had two girls among the top 10,” said LHS head coach Pete Janiszeski. “After that, it was hard to tell. Our top three (Madi Schandelmeier, Gabi Ferrell and Regan Feit) were up there pretty well. There are so many runners close together in clusters, making it somewhat of a muddled mess. It’s just a real challenge determining how things are going.”
Paced by the consistent team leadership of Schandelmeier - a junior veteran, running in her fifth consecutive state meet - the Cardinals, champions of Section 3A, scored better than 13 of the state-qualifying teams.
Schandelmeier placed 18th overall in the field of 176, but was seventh among the 112 team competitors with a time of 19:38.2 as Luverne’s lead runner.
Freshman Gabi Ferrell (40th overall) and seventh-grade sensation Regan Feit (44) were 16th and 18th, respectively, in the team competition, giving the Cardinals just 41 points among their top three. Ferrell ran the course in 20:06.7 and Feit was clocked at 20:14.8.
“As we expected, Madi, Gabi and Regan each came through with great races up front, which really helps,” Janiszeski said. “But, each one of our other four girls came through with exceptional efforts, too, making our strong team finish possible.”

Completing the scoring for LHS were seventh-grader Autumn Nath (21:16.3) and freshman Madison Reisdorfer (21:40.5) just 24 seconds apart in team places 54 and 73, respectively.
Baustian and seventh-grader Cassie Flanagan (97 team scoring, 22:39.6) were Luverne’s sixth and seventh runners.
“All seven had good races on the same day,” said Janiszeski, who pointed to the leadership of his three veterans (Schandelmeier, Ferrell and Reisdorfer all ran on his 2013 state-meet squad) and the clutch sixth-runner performance of Baustian as key factors to Luverne’s strong showing Saturday.
“Madi, Gabi and Madison Reisdorfer have been here before and they have helped mentor the younger runners all season long,” he said. “Claire really had a special day Saturday, finishing very strong as our sixth runner and running a PR by probably at least 20-25 seconds. Her effort helped make the difference between fourth and fifth.”
Perham (4-11-12-21-26) won the team championship with a low score of 74, followed by Annandale (5-8-10-33-42) and Trinity School (1-3-27-28-59) with 98 and 118 points, respectively.
Following Luverne and Fairmont were Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd (200), Pine City (200), Martin County West (210), Lanesboro/Fillmore Central (211), The Blake School (258), Proctor (264), Ely (286), United South Central (292), Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta (297), Lake City (303) and Eden Valley-Watkins (303).
“It’s just awesome,” summed up Schandlemeier, surrounded by her teammates at Saturday’s awards ceremony. “We have such a good team and all of the girls did great all year long.”
“There are about 250 or more Class A girls’ cross country teams,” Janiszeski said. “Being fourth-best among all of those is pretty exciting. It’s a great way to finish the season.”
Winona Cotter seventh-grader Grace Ping won the Class A individual race with a time of 17:52.0, while Alexandria senior Bethany Hasz won the Class AA event, clocked at 17:32.2.
Marshall junior Claire Boersma (third overall, 17:51.1) paced the Tigers (3-13-15-20-25) to a second-place team finish in Class AA with 76 points, just eight behind Edina’s winning total of 68 (7-10-11-12-28).

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