Qualifying for the state cross country meet is becoming a tradition for the Brainerd Warriors.
The Warrior girls have qualified as a team three times in the last four years while the boys will make their second trip to state in three years Saturday.
"It's become an expectation almost," Warriors coach Dave Herath said. "We've got some kids coming through the program who know what it takes to get to state, they know what it takes to do well at state. We expect to go down there and do more of the same.
"Carissa Schmidt is the first girl who's ever been on three state teams, and Jenna Roberts as well. The expectations they have nobody else has had. Hopefully, that will translate into high finishes.
Brainerd boys' and girls' cross country running teams will be competing in the state meet Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Team members are front row: Megan Holmes (left), Anna Gessell, Jenna Dean, Carissa Schmidt, Katy Posterick, Jenna Roberts, Hannah McAllister, Kacie Bahr, Mary Petersen. Middle row: Luke Delaney (left), Justin Tyner, Jake Iten, Nate Tyner, Titus Goodew, Mike Reponen. Back row: Blake Alguire (left), Shawn Steinkraus, Mitch Lorenz, Tyler Rose, Hans Stadem, Justin Anderson, Thomas Ruttger. Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist
"We're definitely not going there to watch everyone else run. We're going there to compete."
The boys' team won one meet this year and was runner-up in four others.
"We thought the boys could be as good as last year, when they were third in the section, if not better, and that materialized," Herath said. "We've been real solid, depth-wise. We can go 10 deep, but you can only run seven.
"We had some good meets but never really put it all together. We had a few dinger injuries, but now we're back in top form. It's a good time to be there."
The girls won two meets and were second in another. Herath knew the girls' row to hoe would be difficult, with Becker, fifth in 1A last year, now in 2A. Fergus Falls, seventh in 2A last year, and Sartell (15th) graduated one runner between them.
"At the section we had five girls run strong," Herath said. "We have yet to have all seven run strong. If we do that at state we could be a real sleeper team. I don't know if we're runner-up quality (like 2003) but we're not far away.
"The girls are an interesting group. I don't know if we've had the same No. 1 or No. 2 runner two meets in a row. We've had a lot of different No. 1s and a lot of different combinations."
Cross country running
What: State meet.
Where: St. Olaf College, Northfield.
Schedule: Class 2A boys, 10 a.m.
Class 2A girls, 11 a.m.
The Warrior boys have been led by junior Justin Tyner, who won the section championship, one of his six victories this season. Tyner was 46th at state last year.
"I would say Justin's got a realistic chance to be in the top 10," Herath said. "Again, he has to run a smart race. This will be his third state meet, so he has that experience. He knows the state race is a different race."
Hannah McAllister and Megan Holmes led the Warrior girls at the section, qualifying for state as individuals as well. McAllister was eighth in the section, Holmes 10th.
"Both ran nice races, very different races, and ended up in about the same spot," Herath said. "Hannah has some big-meet experience in track, Megan has none, but Megan is a quick study. Megan knew what she wanted, and went after it. The nerves were not there. She just ran and did a great job."
Class 2A boys
Individual state qualifier
Brainerd - Justin Tyner, Tyler Rose, Mitch Lorenz, Titus Goodew, Blake Alguire, Shawn Steinkraus, Thomas Ruttger, alternates Hans Stadem, Justin Anderson
Class 2A girls
Individual state qualifiers
Brainerd-Hannah McAllister, Megan Holmes
Brainerd - Hannah McAllister, Megan Holmes, Kacie Bahr, Carissa Schmidt, Anna Gessell, Katy Posterick, Jenna Dean, alternates Jenna Roberts, Mary Petersen
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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