In Roger Twigg's 39 years of coaching it has happened only once before - Crosby-Ironton Rangers boys and girls teams qualifying for state in the same year.
Twigg and C-I boys and girls teams head to the Class 1A state meet this weekend at St. Olaf College in Northfield. They are young, unranked, unheralded and no individual is ranked.
The girls team has one senior in its top seven runners. Junior September Prushek and sophomore Samantha Goshey were volleyball players until deciding to run this fall. Junior Shelby Vukelich and senior Lisa Borden have been to state previously.
"We're basically a team of rookies where for at least four of our runners it was their first time running in every single event," Twigg said. "It was totally new and only once did we not finish either first or second. They were competitive all year long. We had talked about what they needed to do and they went out and did it."
What: State cross country meet
Where: St. Olaf College, Northfield
When: Boys, 10 a.m.; girls, 11 a.m., Saturday
Twigg said this girls team may have progressed more than any he's coached.
"I've had girls teams that were good, physically gifted and experienced, but nobody has stepped up like these girls did at the section meet," Twigg said. "I'm really proud of them. The boys score was really close and, I think they made it a lot closer than it should have, but with the girls it was going to be iffy for them to make it because International Falls had a really good team. Well, we beat them by 30 points."
As far as the C-I boys team, Twigg said each runner is virtually at the same competitive level.
"We don't have an individual standout," he said. "We are truly a team from one to seven. The widest we've been apart, even in last week's (section) race, was under a minute between one and seven. At one race our one through four runners were as close as two seconds. That's our strength.
"We have matured physically and emotionally in the last year. They all kind of grew up. You have to have that. This was a goal of theirs since day one."
Twigg said this boys team truly enjoys running.
"The whole week leading up to the section they were really excited to race," he said. "They weren't excited to get it over with because the pressure was too much. They like to go to meets and they like to race. Maybe it's because we're so young and new to this level of expectation that come with these type of meets. I think our three ninth-graders are very talented for their age group and are very competitive kids.
"Jude Severson was our No. 2 runner at sections and he's just coming on. Will Goodwin improved by almost 30 seconds. John Stokman set a personal record there. These young guys have stepped up to the plate."
Senior Colt Severson; juniors Seth Carlton, Jacob Goodwin, Mitch Skjeveland; freshmen Jude Severson, Will Goodwin, John Stokman
Senior Lisa Borden; juniors September Prushek, Shelby Vukelich; sophomore Samantha Goshey; eighth-graders Lauren Peterson, Kaleen Lewis; seventh-grader Margaret Stokman
German foreign exchange student Lisa Reichert qualified for state by finishing fourth in the section.
"She wasn't an active runner in Germany," Cardinals coach Bruce Fuhrman said. "She spent some time doing some club running, but not as a team or anything structured.
"She is very coachable and took over our No. 1 spot the second half of the season. It took a bit of time as she learned the sport and the purpose of our workouts. She has developed into a very nice runner for us."
Sophomore Mikey Ryan qualified for state by snaring the last Section 8-1A qualifying spot for state. He finished 10th in 17:12.61.
Ryan has been Pequot's No. 1 runner all season.
"Going into (the section) we thought if he could hang in the top 15 who knows?" Patriots coach Jon Dale said. "After the first mile he was hovering around 12th or 13th, and stayed there. With a mile to go it was basically a 3-person race, he hung in there and outkicked them at the end."
Ryan, completing his first full varsity season, was the junior varsity MVP in 2009.
"We knew he had potential," Dale said. "To step up and be our No. 1 runner was a pleasant surprise."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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