The Lakeville North Panthers have a lot to cheer about- they will be taking both their boys and girls cross country teams to State Meet this Saturday at St. Olaf College. Both teams qualified at the Section 1AA meet on Thursday, Oct. 24 in Owatonna.
The Panther girls showed their solid championship toughness by beating the hopeful Big-9 conference champ team of Austin by 29 points for the runner-up spot. The girls finished second to their crosstown sisters of Lakeville South by 41 points. The lady Panthers were led by 8th grader Danielle Bellino, finishing 2nd place overall in the girls 4K with a time of. Bellino posted the fastest finishing time for all girls 8th grade and younger going into the State meet. Bellino led the team of junior Courtney Earle (16th), freshman Emma Drangstveit (19th) sophomore Taylor Loth (21st), eighth grader Kenzie Teague (27th), junior Elle Severson (41st) and senior Riley Broughten (63rd). Alternates for the girls State team will be eighth graders Jerrica Hanson and Christina Harrison. This will be Head Coach Rich Heilman’s 9th trip with the team to state. Heilman is very optimistic, “The girls are coming into the meet healthy and strong- both physically and mentally as well as with experience. Six of them return from last year’s team. The taper has been super and the girls look the strongest they have all season. I expect their best race is in store for .”
The Panther girls CC team will be making their 13th consecutive appearance, a State Meet record streak which includes 2 state titles (’05 and ’03), one runner-up finish (‘08) and two third place finishes (’04 and ’01). Between 2001 and 2004as “Lakeville” and between 2005 and 2013 as “Lakeville North” following the opening of South.
On the boys side, this will be their strong return after a 3 year hiatus. The boys battled in an extremely tight team race at the Section 1AA championships, finishing a mere 1 point behind Red Wing and 13 points ahead of Rochester Century. Junior Justin Hanson led the Panthers in the boys 5K with a 8th place finish in a time of. Sophomore Luke Anderson (13th ), senior Jason Windhorn (15th ), juniors Noah Omdal (26th), Kyle Binder (29th ) freshman Duncan Ince (47th) and junior Ben Rauzi (50th) together scored 91 points to earn their trip to State. The boys alternates for State meet will be sophomore Jacob Beckstrom and freshman Evan El-Halawani. Head coach Rob Carney, in his 2nd season at the helm, is excited and also optimistic for his boys team. “They have worked hard and long together for this team goal. They train and race so well as a pack. Pack running is their strength going into the State meet and that is what has been their formula for success in a very successful season.” The boy Panthers have proven this to be true, having a spread of only 38 seconds between their 1st and 5th finishers at the Section championships.
The State Meet will be on Saturday, Nov. 2nd at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, The Class AA Girls race start atwith the Panther girls starting in lane 17. The Boys Class AA race will start at with the Panther boys in lane 20.