By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
NORTHFIELD — The United South Central girls cross country squad didn’t qualify for the Class A state meet as a team on Saturday, but the Rebels did fine just the same.
The two USC entrants both turned in All-State performances on the course at St. Olaf College. Junior Emily Mantor was the top area finisher with a fourth-place time of 14:39.5 while senior Hannah Goemann was 24th in 15:27.3.
Mantor, who was 25th a year ago, shaved about 50 seconds off last season’s time.
“It was what I expected,” she said of the race. “I tried to stay with the lead runners as best I could. I used the downhills to try to catch people when I could.”
Goemann, who had to miss last spring’s track season with a torn ACL, was happy to be competing again.
“I knew what to expect, I’ve been here before,” said Goemann, who qualified individually as a freshman and a sophomore and with the team last year. “After last spring I was just happy to be up here running.”
Belle Plaine sophomore Janessa Mueleners dropped a place from last year’s meet but ran six seconds faster. She finished 14th in 15:12.9. Also competing as individuals Saturday where Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton freshman Tierney Winter (39th, 15:37.1), Loyola/Cleveland seventh-grader Kyla Haas (44th, 15:39.3), St. James sophomore Ashley Lahti (68th, 15:51.3), Blue Earth Area freshman Tyler Grandgenett (87th, 16:05.8) and St. Peter sophomore Abby Borgmeier (115th, 16:28).
For Haas, it was her inaugural state meet after joining the Crusaders varsity for the first time this season.
“I’m pretty happy,” she said. “I was really nervous at the starting line but that went away right away.”
The Waseca girls competed as a team and came through with a fourth-place finish, scoring 157 points. Esko was first (115), Annandale was second (150) and Minnehaha Academy was third (157).
Junior Sadie Klug was the Bluejays’ top finisher with a 26th-place time of 15:28.2. Teammate Sally O’Brien, a sophomore was right behind in 27th place (15:29.7).
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to,” Klug said. “I was hoping to finish higher. I did pass one girl coming up the hill and that helps the team every time you pass somebody.”
Also placing for Waseca were eighth-grader Kourtney Kulseth (70th, 15:54.7), freshman Allison Breck (90th, 16:06.2), senior Mackenzie Burke (127th, 16:36.1), junior Meredith Thomez (135th, 16:46.6) and seventh-grader Maya Aberle (163rd, 17:59.6).
“We knew those second, third and fourth spots were going to be close,” Waseca coach Gary Meurer said. “All in all, it was a pretty good day for us.”