It is not a secret that Section 1 is often super powerful in such sports as football and volleyball. Cross country has been the same way this year, on the girl’s side of things in Class A for sure. The 2017 state meet in Northfield was further evidence. Four Section 1A athletes, Cotter sisters Grace (freshman, #1) and Lauren Ping (7th grader, #3), Z-M/K-W 7th grader Natasha Sortland (#6), and Stewartville sophomore Kailee Malone (#10), came in ranked top ten in state. When the girls 5000-meter race was done on St. Olaf’s campus, 13 athletes from Section 1A finished in the top 57 of a 174-gal race. The small shocker was that #1 Grace Ping, the 2015 state champion (17:52), who competed elsewhere in 2016, finished third (18:27.5). She battled a quad injury. Sister Lauren Ping (18:19.7) finished second behind repeating state champion, Math and Science Academy freshman Tierney Wolfgram (17:31.6). Wolfgram came in ranked #2 in state and won the 2016 Class A individual title (18:23.6). Morgan Arnold (16th, 19:21.4) and Aubrey Williams (38th, 19:58.2) teamed with the Ping sisters to help Cotter to a second-place team finish (87), by the slimmest of margins behind girls team state champion Perham (86). Perham was state runner-up last year. Stewartville had Malone (13th, 19:13.6) and Abby Orvis (23rd, 19:33.1) in the top 25, helping the Tigers finish fourth place as a team. Section 1A had the second and fourth place teams at state (of 16). Two other Section 1A girls finished top 11; Lyle/Pacelli’s Kayla Christopherson (9th, 19:07.5) and Z-M/K-W’s Sortland (11th, 19:11.0). Lake City’s Jacey Majerus (31st), Rochester Area Home School’s Madeline Perry (32nd), PEM’s Madilyn Simon (44th), LFC’s Kaylee Arndt (53rd), and Lake City’s Johannah Clementson (57th) finished in the top 1/3 of the field. The freshman Arndt has moved significantly up the state leaderboard the past three years. She was 173rd (of 175) as 7th grader (24:00.9) running with the LFC team and 137th last year (21:29.0) again running amidst LFC’s team. Her time at state this year (20:10.8) was 20-plus-seconds faster than at Sections (20:33.5). It was Arndt’s third fastest (in competition) time the past two years. She ran 20:03 in taking third at the St. Charles Invite this year and 19:48.7 in taking third at the Dover-Eyota Invite last year. The freshman has finished top ten 13 times the past two seasons. LFC has now represented itself at the state girls meet in four of the last five years. On top of the back-to-back team qualifications in 2015 and 2016, Kiera Olson qualified individually in 2013.
About Paul Trende