East Ridge cross country: Raptors girls three-peat
For the third-straight year, the East Ridge girls cross country team earned Suburban East Conference supremacy.
Backed by five All-Conference performances, the Raptors cruised to its third consecutive SEC Championship at the conference meet held Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Falcon Ridge Golf Course in Stacy.
With its top five runners all in the top 16 finishers overall, East Ridge totaled a mere 50 place points to beat rival Roseville, which had 72 place points to take second place. Forest Lake (88 points) was third.
"The other two conference championship years we barely edged it out by one or two points," East Ridge head coach Chad Cronin said. "This year was a sizeable lead. The coaches are proud of all the runners. We had some great compliments on how they represented their school by showing respect and being polite as well."
For East Ridge, junior Bailey Ness and sophomore Emily Betz led the way. Ness broke her own East Ridge High School 4K record with a time of 14 minutes, 24 seconds to take third place overall. Betz wasn't too far back with a time of 14:30 for fourth overall. East Ridge senior Taylor Jackson was the third Raptor to cross the finish line, taking 13th overall with a time of 15:01. Sophomore Brenley Goertzen was just a step back of Jackson, taking 14th with the same time (15:01). East Ridge junior Sandra Gramer rounded out the Raptors' top five with a time of 15:03 to take 16th overall. All five of the runners earned All-Conference awards - which go to the top 20 overall finishers, with the next 10 being awarded All-Conference honorable mention. East Ridge also had three honorable mention award winners - Megan Schiferl, Liz Maata and Anna Betz.
White Bear Lake junior Bethany Kozak won the race with a time of 13:59.
In the 10-team boys race, East Ridge took eighth place with 185 points. Senior Nate Roese led the way for the Raptors, taking fifth place overall with a time of 15:53 - which was a new school 5K record. Roese earned his second All-Conference honor with the finish after missing last year's race with an injury. Junior Ryan Schiferl was the next East Ridge runner across the finish line, taking 32nd place with a time of 17:16. Junior Sam Scholz (17:43), freshman Jack Walter (17:57) and junior Aaron Gorden (18:02) took 43rd, 51st and 54th, respectively to round out the Raptors' top five.
Stillwater won the boys race with 32 points. Stillwater senior Wayde Hall edged Cretin-Derham Hall senior Kevin Docherty by two seconds to take first place.
Next, East Ridge will compete in the Section 4AA race on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course. At sections, the top two teams and the top 10 individual runners in the boys and girls race earn trips to state. The section champions in 2010, the East Ridge girls were edged by Roseville in last year's section race.
"We are poised for a strong finish with our sites on Wednesday's section meet and then the state meet," Cronin said. "We feel both the girls and the boys make up our best-trained team yet."