by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Reed Parent became the second Rogers runner to qualify for state in cross country, placing third in the Section 5AA meet Thursday in Anoka.
The Royal boys placed eighth among 15 teams and the girls placed 11th among 14 teams in the course on the high school campus.
“Reed ran exactly the races he needed to in order to have a chance at advancing to state,” said coach Steve Leuer. “He’s had a great year and it’s really exciting to see him make that next step. It will be great experience for him next Saturday.”
Caleb LeClaire, a state qualifier the last two years, ended a frustrating senior season being unable to run.
“For Caleb it was a pretty rough season, and has been a rough eight months,” said Leuer. “He’s struggled with some iron deficiency issues since track and just hasn’t been able to recover from it .”
Leuer noted that CeClaire has “worked his tail off” for six years and was sorry to see him finish like this.
“I’ve shared many miles on the road with him. I know what he had his heart set on and how hard he has worked for it. It just wasn’t meant to.”
Parent, a sophomore, finished in 16:26, trailing champion Brendan Sage of St. Michael-Albertville (16:21) and Jonathan Keller of Centennial (16:24). He will run at the state meet Saturday, Nov. 5 in Northfield.
Centennial was boys team champion with 48 points, well ahead of runner-up Mounds View with 106. Both teams advance to state. STMA was third with 126.
Rogers also had senior TJ Scott in 32nd place (17:25), senior Aaron Nelson in 36th place (17:33), junior Justin Burt in 48th place (17:55) and freshman Karl Gorecki in 74th place (18:26), among 104 runners.
“The rest of the guys … competed as well as they could and that’s all I can ask of them,” said the coach. “They don’t need to go out and do something miraculous. Just do the job they’ve been training all season to do.”
St. Michael-Albertville was the girls team champion with 83, with Totino-Grace second at 91, also advancing to state. Coon Rapids was third with 91, losing that state slot on a tie-breaker.
Anoka senior Katelyn Fritz was individual champion in 14:47.
Freshman Madie Mikolich led Rogers in 41st place with 16:30, followed by sophomore Jacki Lindfors in 44th place (16:38), seventh-grader Kelsie Cox in 65th place (17:11), eighth-grader Abbi Miller in 66th place (17:13) and sophomore Bekah Shaffer in 79th place (17:40).
“Our girls had their best team effort of the season and quite honestly, they may have had the best team effort on the girls side ever,” said Leuer. “I was really proud of how they all ran.”
With just one senior on the girls squad, the season was a good learning experience, said Leuer.
“I’m really excited to see what they can do in the years to come,” he said.