Saturday, November 03, 2007

Blaze Wins Class AA Girls with 7.6 Second Spread

A solid five-runner pack has been the secret to success for the Burnsville girls’ cross country team all season, and today proved no different at the State Championship at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Without a single runner in the top 20 overall, the Blaze managed to score just 90 points with an incredible 7.6 seconds separating their top five. Runner-up Eden Prairie put three runners in front of Maria Tinebra, Burnsville’s top finisher, but could not stack up in the fourth and fifth positions. Eden Prairie’s fifth runner placed 50th in the team race while 3rd-place Minnetonka’s fifth was 68th, losing crucial points to the Blaze, whose final scorer crossed the line 25th in the team meet.

This pack did not surprise Burnsville head coach Jeff Walsh, whose team entered the meet ranked second in Class AA. A low top-five spread has been the game plan all season long for the Blaze. “The best thing to say: continue to stay a pack,” Walsh said.

In the individual competition, last year’s runner-up Laura Hughes of Mankato West made a strong move with 600 meters to go, putting 17 seconds on second-place finisher Cassy Opitz of Eden Prairie, winning 14:28.4 to 14:45.2. Emma Bates of Elk River was 3rd in 14:47.3.

White Bear Lake’s Katie Moreczewski took the race out in the early going, coming through the mile unofficially in 5:34. By 3200 meters, the top two contenders had emerged, with Opitz and Hughes in front, followed by Kaylea Brase of Centennial, who finished 8th.

Hughes learned from last year’s race. “Last year I took off a little earlier because I was feeling good, but this year I just stuck with them just to make sure I could finish it,” she said.

After breaking away from Opitz late in the race, Hughes ran the finishing stretch with a significant lead, though she was unaware of how much breathing room she had. “I didn’t know I was so far ahead. I though she was right on my tail in that last stretch…I just tried to go as fast as I could."

Like Hughes, Opitz was consciously conservative for the first mile. “I know the state meet usually goes out really fast, and I have been working on my pace. It’s not really about time at this meet,” she said.

Full Results

Photo of Laura Hughes by Gene Niemi.

1 comment:

Amy C said...

The Burnsville Five are Nordic Skiers that raced at the State Ski Meet last year. They have a goal to become State Nordic Champs; this win was frosting. They each trained an average of 12 hours/week this summer; about 25 miles of running. All very tough, dedicated and extremely fit. Congratulations girls.