The boys cross country team improved on their 2018 showing at the state meet by two places to finish in 6th place for the 2019 edition of the MSHSL State Cross Country Meet. It was a tightly contested race with only 13 points separating 4th place from 7th. Early in the race senior AJ Green put himself in contention with the lead pack running on the outside shoulder of the leader through the first 1000m. A little further back were senior Sam Morgenstern and junior Gabe Mahlen who were established at about the 60th percentile of the race. The remainder of the Lightning team were made up of juniors Sam Setterlund and Colby Rubischko and sophomores Hunter Dunne and Nate Getman. These four remained close to one another throughout the race and, despite getting out in a quick 5:10 opening mile, found themselves trapped mid pack by a throng of runners blocking their paths forward.
Green continued to hold his position in the front of the race, coming through the mile in 4:50, Mahlen and Morgenstern came through in 5:05. The entire field of runners adjusted the second mile, slowing the pace by about 15-20 seconds. As several runners adjusted to the shift in pace, Mahlen was able to take advantage and move up 24 places during the second mile. Morgenstern, who ran a 5:30 middle mile, was able to move up 8 spots. While the remaining team members ran a 5:35 middle mile to maintain their positions.
Over the course of the final mile of the 5,000 meter endeavor the leaders picked the pace back up as they became more competitive up front battling for the lead…or more specifically, as Green started to push the pace in an effort to drop the competition. By the 4k mark Green and the eventual state champion were dueling upfront slowly opening a lead over the front pack that began to string out behind this duo. Only one other runner from the front pack was able to hang with these two as they came through the final mile running between 4:55 and 5:00. The next closest competitor from the lead group was only able to muster a 5:10. With 200m to go Green had a slight lead, however, as he had been the one pushing the pace he had just a slight drop in energy over the final sprint coming home in in 3rd place; 6 seconds off of first and less than 2 seconds out of 2nd, but nearly 10 seconds clear of 4th. Green’s finish is the highest and fastest finish at the state meet in the history of Eastview cross country and his fast finish over the final mile helped him lower his school record to 15:31.8.
Gabe Mahlen had the 5th fastest final mile (5:07) of any racer in the entire field to drop his place another 24 spots to finish in 22nd place overall, earning all-state honors for the second straight year. Mahlen’s performance (especially over the final mile) is made all the more impressive as he has been battling a back injury for the past few weeks. Mahlen’s final time of 16:05 was less than 10 seconds from earning himself a top 10 finish in the race. With one more week to heal before the Lightning’s regional race it will be exciting to see what a full and healthy team can accomplish.
After his fast opening mile, Morgenstern ran a consistent 5:30 pace for the 2nd and 3rd miles which helped him maintain his position over the final two-thirds of the race. He finished in 62nd place with a time of 16:36.5. Rubischko and Dunne were able to maintain their paces over the final mile as well passing 10 people each over the final mile to finish in 16:55.7 (104th) and 16:56.5 (108th), respectively. Getman and Setterlund each ran a 5:40 final mile to round out the 5k race with times of 16:59.3 and 17:00.0, respectively.
The Lightning have a final competition in Sioux Falls against competition from several midwest states on Nov. 10th.
Congratulations on a strong finish to the season, and a special thank you to all of the seniors, parents, alumni and community members who have come out in support of the Lightning this season and provided guidance and help to ensure a successful season.