To attain a goal, an athlete must want it. Really want it.
Marshall cross country runners Andrew Bell and Claire Boersma had their minds on qualifying for the state meet all season, and Friday at the Section 2AA meet in Buffalo, the two runners showed just how much they wanted it.
Bell, a junior, continued his stellar season with a fifth-place finish on Friday, finishing the race in a time of 16 minutes, 39 seconds. He won't be going to state with his team like he did last year, as the Tigers finished eighth out of 15 teams, but his finish Friday means he'll be back in Northfield on Nov. 3 to compete at the Class AA state meet as an individual.
"He ran a very determined race, basically like he's done all year long," Marshall boys' head coach Mike Jacobs said of Bell. "He's been on a mission to go to state from the very beginning and has done a lot to prepare himself for this meet."
The Marshall girls' cross country team had its mind set on state all season, and although the young team improved by leaps and bounds, the Tigers weren't quite able to achieve their goal of finishing in the top two at sections. Marshall placed fourth out of 15 teams, finishing behind Chanhassen (46 points), Chaska (68) and Shakopee (83). Marshall had 98 points.
The Tigers were able to have an individual runner make state, and very nearly had three of them. The top eight individuals that weren't on one of the top two teams also qualified for next week's meet. Boersma, an eighth-grader finished in that group by placing 12th overall with a time of 15:11.
"She went out and had her mind set on going to state and ran like that," Marshall girls' head coach Marie Sample said. "She ran strong and aggressive, but also controlled and comfortable. That's a [personal best] for her. On a tough, hilly course, she ran 23 seconds faster than she has all year. You could see that she really wanted to go to state."
Senior Madi Verschaetse, who went out for cross country for the first time this year, just barely missed out on joining Boersma. Verschaetse finished one spot out of qualifying, taking 17th with a time of 15:41. Teammate Rose Andersen was just one spot and three seconds behind that.
Rounding out the top five Marshall girls' finishers were Shyla Hansen, who was 24th (15:58), and Nichole Sample, who placed 27th (16:03).
Marie Sample said it was sad to see her team come up short of state after putting so much effort into getting there, but considering what the team accomplished this year, she could hardly consider Friday's finish a disappointment.
"I'm asking an awful lot out of these kids and I know that," she said. "We're thankful we've got Claire moving on, but at the same time it's kind of sad because I really enjoyed working with these girls.
"We built this team during the track season and all ran together during the summer. Many of these kids are new to cross country and I'm so proud of the girls. They had an amazing year and did a lot of cool things. Our program really made a big leap this fall."
Orono and Chaska finished in the top two spots in the boys' race to move on to state with 71 and 83 points, respectively. Marshall finished in eighth with 202 points.
Bell was the only Tiger to finish in the top 30. Blaine Moran took 36th (17:32), Mike Larson was 43rd (17:37, Wade DeAustin was 51st (17:52) and Tanner Bukowski was 67th (18:28).
Bukowski, who made his way back from a hip flexor injury to be able to compete at the end of the season, is the only senior on the team this year. With Bell emerging as an elite runner and his younger team members also developing, Jacobs is optimistic about the future of his squad.
"When you look at our lineup, our fifth counter was the only senior in our lineup, so that bodes well for us next year," he said. "A lot of teams that beat us were loaded up with seniors, quite of few of the teams up ahead of us had three or four of them. By virtue of that, we should be able to find a bit more power next year and I think things will be looking pretty good."
Section 2AA Meet - Buffalo
Girls Team Results: 1. Chanhassen 46; 2. Chaska 68; 3. Shakopee 83; 4. Marshall 98; 5. Holy Family Catholic 112; 6. Buffalo 191; 7. Orono 206; 8. Hutchinson 260; 9. Waconia 282; 10. Mankato West 298; 11. Dassel-Cokato 203; 12. Delano 325; 13. Mankato East 328; 14. Worthington 338; 15. Mound-Westonka 420.
Marshall Individual Results: 12. Claire Boersma 15:11; 17. Madi Verschaetse 15:41; 18. Rose Andersen 15:44; 24. Shyla Hansen 15:58; 27. Nichole Sample 16:03; 39. Syndey Blomme 16:26; 46. Jenna Christianson 16:34.
Boys Team Results: 1. Orono 71; 2. Chaska 83; 3. Buffalo 96; 4. Hutchinson 116; 5. Chanhassen 155; 6. Delano 162; 7. Mound-Westonka 174; 8. Marshall 202; 9. Worthington 210; 10. Holy Family Catholic 260; 11. Shakopee 278; 12. Mankato West 302; 13. Mankato East 353; 14. Dassel-Cokato 364; 15. Waconia 432.
Marshall Individual Results: 5. Andrew Bell 16:39; 36. Blaine Moran 17:32; 43. Mike Larson 17:37; 51. Wade DeAustin 17:52; 67. Tanner Bukowski 18:28; 71. John Botsford 18:35.6 73. Chase Vankuelen 18:35.9.