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|Paynesville Press - November 7, 2001|
Bulldogs take second at state meet
The Paynesville girls' cross country team came 11 points from a state title on Saturday in Northfield, but team members were thrilled with their runner-up finish in Class A at the state cross country meet.|
"Second in the state is fantastic," said coach Darrel Carstens during the team's welcome home on Sunday night at the high school.
The girls' team - in the second state cross country appearance as a team (the first was in 1991) - recorded the highest state finish of any girls' team in school history. The previous best was fourth: by the girls' golf team in 1987 and by the danceline in 1996.
Holding ther second-place trophy are: (front) manager Maureen Flanders, Sheena Hoekstra, Tanis Beireis, Brooke Schmitz, and Mandy Mayer; (middle) Trisha Wendlandt, Jen Hess, Kim Hess, Kacy Nehowig, and Nicole Flint; (back) assistant coach Todd Spanier, head coach Darrel Carstens, and assistant coach Rick Houske. Not pictured is manager Mesa Frenchick.
Paynesville Area High School has four state titles in wrestling and a boys' cross country title.
Led by two all-state performances, the Bulldogs had a legitimate shot a state title, but the Wildcats of neighboring New London-Spicer defended their state title. The Bulldogs beat the Wildcats four straight times in September to start the year, providing momentum for the young Bulldog team. But the Wildcats had beaten the Bulldogs by three points at the Dogs' only home meet, the Koronis Invitational, in the last meeting between the two teams in late September.
The Wildcats advanced to state as the Section 6A runner-up to Staples-Motley, who were the only other team to beat the Bulldogs this year. Staples-Motley, ranked first in the state, ended up in third, eight points behind Paynesville.
Those earlier losses to NL-S and Staples-Motley occurred when the Bulldogs were doing their most intensive training of the season, leaving Carstens confident the team could run with them at state. "I don't think we ever doubted we could beat either team," he said.
The Bulldogs finished the season with a record of 121-3 (season records), and lived up to their state rating, which had them ranked as the second-best team in Class A.
Senior Jen Hess, who won the Class A race for the second year in a row, led the Bulldogs again. She has earned all-state honors for four straight years.
Eighth grader Brooke Schmitz earned all-state honors for the second year by placing 17th overall, an improvement of eight spots from a year ago. For the team scoring, though, Schmitz finished sixth. (Individual state entrants do not count in the team scoring, thus the higher placing in the team results.)
Ninth grader Kim Hess and seventh grader Kacy Nehowig came in with a pack of three Wildcat runners. Hess finished 24th in the team scoring and 45th overall, while Nehowig was 29th in the team scoring and 52nd overall.
Seventh grader Tanis Beireis raised her performance on the state stage, knocking a minute off her previous personal best. She was the Bulldogs' fifth runner for the first time all year, finishing 47th in the team scoring and 73rd overall.
Juniors Mandy Mayer and Nicole Flint (pictured at left, #186) completed the Bulldogs' state lineup with steady races. Mayer finished 64th in the team scoring and 90th overall. Flint finished 83rd for the team and 109th overall.
The girls fulfilled Carstens' goal for the team: to place in the top three and earn a trophy and individual medals. This is the same goal he had a year ago for the boys' team when it won the state title.
"We're so proud of them," Carstens said. "We hope the community is as proud of them as we are."
Team members deserved extra hugs from their parents, added assistant coach Todd Spanier at the welcome home celebration, for the way they conducted themselves over the weekend. "They repre-sented Paynesville and they represented you very well," he said.
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