Cross country: Emery, Christopherson win section titles

There is no such thing as been there, done that for Zack Emery.

La Crescent's Zack Emery (601) and Matt Steiger (609) run in the Section 1A Cross Country meet Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at Northern Hills Golf Course in Rochester.

There is no such thing as been there, done that for Zack Emery.

The senior from La Crescent could fill cabinets with the cross country awards he has collected in his high school career.

But Emery hasn't taken his success for granted.

He pushed himself to another championship on Thursday afternoon at Northern Hills Golf Course in Rochester. Emery out-sprinted teammate Matt Steiger and Lake City's Carl Kozlowski to repeat as the Section One, Class A boys cross country champion.

"The course was a little soggy and the hills were pretty intense, but otherwise it was a good course," said Emery, who finished in 16:16.5 to win his third section title. "(Steiger) was right behind and Carl was right (on my hip) most of the race. I had energy to push at the end and felt like I could speed it up to try to pull away."


Emery will compete in the Class A state meet for the fourth time in his high school career. And this time he'll return to St. Olaf College in Northfield as the defending state champion.

"It's a great feeling to win the section again," he said. "You're more calm up there now. The first time you go up there, it's a new experience and you don't know a lot of the kids you race against. I know now who I'm going against and I know the course, know what to focus on.

"There are a lot of other guys with lots of talent. I've improved, but so have a lot of other kids."

Emery will see some familiar faces at state on Nov. 5. All five La Crescent runners finished in the top 20 on Thursday and the Lancers won the section team title with 45 points.

La Crescent is making its third consecutive trip to state and 16th overall. Last year it finished in sixth place.

"It's great, nice to bring everyone along," he said. "We're kind of like one big family and it's nice to have them all there."

Lake City, paced by Kozlowski's third-place run, finished with 81 points to earn runner-up honors and the second state-meet berth from Section 1A. It is going to state for the third consecutive season. It placed seventh last year.

The top eight runners not on a state meet-qualifying team also will advance to state. Those qualifiers are Nick Meyer (Wabasha-Kellogg), Peter Torkelson (GMLOS), Josiah Eide (Rochester Area Home School), Caleb Jones (RAHS), Jack Williams (Pine Island), Alec Ille (Blooming Prairie), Nathan Drees (Austin Pacelli) and Jaxon Stucky (P-E-M).


Christopherson healthy,

back on top of section

Austin Pacelli coach Jim Parlin attempted to set a reasonable bar for sophomore Kayla Christopherson entering Thursday's Section 1A girls meet.

"She has an expectation in her head," Parlin said. "I told her (Thursday) was just about qualifying for state, she didn't have to win it, but in her head she had to win it."

Christopherson didn't just qualify, she qualified with a bullet. She missed all but two meets this season because of a foot injury, but maintained her cardio by riding a stationary bike and swimming. Approximately a month ago she began training again and quickly ramped up her preparations for the postseason.

"She showed me what heart and guts really means," Parlin said. "She hung in there and did what she had to do to get ready. When it came time to run here, she was mentally ready to go."

It paid off in a big way Thursday, as she won her second section title in a time of 19:42.9. She also won as an eighth-grader in 2014, and finished second to Grace Ping of Winona Cotter last year.

"The past few practices, I told myself I have to do this because I wasn't doing as well as I could," Christopherson said. "Hard work pays off, I guess. It's really exciting."


She is headed to the Class A state meet for a fourth time.

"It helps a lot" to have been there before, she said. "I have lots of good memories from up there and hopefully can create some more."

Christopherson won't be headed to state alone, either. For the first time in program history, two Pacelli runners have qualified as individuals. Freshman Rory Bickler also qualified from Pacelli; she placed ninth in 20:12.8.

"It's tremendous," Parlin said. "It was a goal we set going into this meet, something I felt we could do if we had a good race, and I feel like we did."

Lake City won the team title, with 84 points. The Tigers had four runners finish in the top 25, led by fifth-place finisher McKenna Beltz, a seventh-grader who ran the 5,000-meter course in 20:05.6.

Lanesboro/Fillmore Central also qualified for state for a second consecutive season. It finished with 90 points, beating Stewartville out on a tie-breaker (L/FC's sixth runner finished higher than Stewartville's). L/FC was led by senior Kiera Olson in 13th place (20:26.7) and eighth-grader Kaylee Arndt in 14th (20:32.3).

Other individual qualifiers are individual runner-up Kailee Malone (Stewartville), Sophie Epps (Cannon Falls), Lauryn Renier (Rochester Lourdes), Malia Nelson (Dover-Eyota), Aubrey Williams (Winona Cotter) and Laura Pedelty (Stewartville).

The state meet is set for Nov. 5 at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The Class A boys race is set to begin at 10 a.m. with the girls race to follow at 11 a.m.


Runners compete in the Section 1A Cross Country meet Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at Northern Hills Golf Course in Rochester.

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