Before her runners took the course Thursday in Monticello, Marshall girls' cross country coach Marie Sample told the Tigers that the host team was pretty good. After the Tigers finished in second place, 22 points behind Monticello, Sample let the runners know that they just hung around with the defending Class AA state champions.
Marshall finished with 64 points and had six runners finish in the top 20 of the 11-team meet. Seventh-grader Nichole Sample paced the Tigers with a time of 15 minutes, 56 seconds to finish in ninth place. She was followed by Rose Andersen (11th, 16:06), Claire Boersma (13th, 16:08), Madi Verscheatse (15th, 16:20), Shyla Hansen (16th, 16:26) and Jenna Christianson (17th, 16:38).
"It was a big meet and the girls were fearless," Marie Sample said. "They executed their plan and were just awesome.
"I'm just so happy all these girls came out and we're going to see some big improvements as the year goes on. I think we'll see all the girls down into the 15-minute range, and maybe even a couple into the 14s. Nobody expected this out of us. We kind of came out of nowhere."
It was just the team's second meet, and for Nichole Sample (Marie's daughter), it was her first-ever varsity competition.
"That was exciting," Marie Sample said of her daughter's performance. "Nichole, I thought she'd be around a 16:20, and a 15:56 just blew me out of the water."
Girls Team Results: 1. Monticello 42; 2. Marshall 64; 3. Big Lake 83; 4. Anoka 101; 5. STMA 104; 6. Annandale 142; 7. Rogers 212; 8. Becker 229; 9. Irondale 257; 10. Hutchinson 253; 11. Cooper 280.
Marshall Individual Results: 9. Nichole Sample 15:56; 11. Rose Andersen 16:06; 13. Claire Boersma 16:08; 15. Madi Verscheatse 16:20; 16. Shyla Hansen 16:26; 17. Jenna Christianson16:38; 45. Sarah Buysse 17:43.
Boys Team Results: 1. Saint Michael-Albertville 69; 2. Coon Rapids 76; 3. Hutchinson 77; 4. Monticello 110; 5. Marshall 121; 6. Anoka 171; 7. Irondale 173; 8. Rogers 191; 9. Cooper 210; 10. Big Lake 247; 11. Becker 311; 12. Annandale 329.
Marshall Individual Results: 68. Zach Drum 19:44; 66. Matt Christianson 19:40; 34. Tanner Bukowski 18:06; 32. Mike Larson 18:04; 29. Wade DeAustin 17:56; 23. Blaine Moran 17:47; 3. Andrew Bell 16:43.
Noel Olson, a senior for Big Lake, took first place individually with her time of 14:26.
It wasn't quite as good of a day for the Marshall boys, who won the meet last year. The Tigers finished in fifth on Thursday with a team total of 121. Saint Michael-Albertville took top honors (69), followed by Coon Rapids (76), Hutchinson (77) and Monticello (110).
Marshall senior Andrew Bell broke away from the pack of Marshall runners and finished third overall with a time of 16:43. Hutchinson's Isaiah Barlow took top honors at 15:50.
Marshall boys' head coach Mike Jacobs said he thought that the field at this year's competition was stronger than last year, and said Bell's time was far better than Marshall's top runners from last year.
"We had a really close collection of guys for a while and then Bell just broke away from the rest of them," Jacobs said. "He really had an outstanding race and distanced himself from our other guys."
Marshall's second-best finisher was Blaine Moran, who took 23rd with a time of 17:47. Other top Marshall runners were Wade DeAustin (29th, 17:56), Mike Larson (32nd, 18:04) and Tanner Bukowski (34th, 18:06), who was battling a hip flexor injury.
Jacobs was interested in how Marshall would do against Hutchinson, a fellow Section 2AA team. He said his team will get an even better indication of how it stacks up in the section Thursday at a meet in Hutchinson.
Before then, the Marshall cross country teams will host their only meet of the season on Monday.