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Cross Country Running: Patriots hope to move up at state

Class 1A state meet St. Olaf College, Northfield Class 1A boys, 10 a.m.: Pequot Lakes team, Emmet Anderson of Staples-Motley, Jake Andres of Pierz Class 1A girls, 11 a.m.: Kira Sweeney of Staples-Motley, Sunshine Langworthy of Pequot Lakes With s...

Class 1A state meet

St. Olaf College, Northfield

Class 1A boys, 10 a.m.: Pequot Lakes team, Emmet Anderson of Staples-Motley, Jake Andres of Pierz

Class 1A girls, 11 a.m.: Kira Sweeney of Staples-Motley, Sunshine Langworthy of Pequot Lakes

With six runners returning from last year's eighth-place finish at the Class 2A state cross country meet, the Pequot Lakes Patriots appear poised to make a move up Saturday.

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Tony Fitzer, Reid Pierzinski, Jacob Tschida, Marty Fitzer, Russell Pierzinski and Cody Huss return for the seventh-ranked Patriots who finished second in the Section 8-1A meet Oct. 28.

Fitzer placed third in the section and Pierzinski seventh to pace the Patriots. Fitzer caught the lead pack of runners at the 2-mile mark. The top six exchanged positions and began making their moves with about 800 meters remaining. Fitzer finished at 16:44 and Pierzinski at 16:58.

Karl Brine-Doyle was the Patriots' No. 3 finisher at the section.

"Karl changed his strategy and did a longer warm-up to help him run his best time of the year and just break 18:00," Patriots coach Jeff Brever said.

Marty Fitzer finished as the No. 4 runner for the Patriots, returning to full strength after a hip injury to run a personal-best 18:05. Jacob Tschida ran through illness and clocked an 18:11.

"Jacob has been sick for a week and it took a toll on his performance," Brever said. "He's just starting to recover from a cold and an ear infection. He wasn't going to let the team down and gave everything he had and left it out on the course."

Russell Pierzinski and Sam Person finished 33rd and 34th, respectively, for the Patriots.

In the girls meet, Sunshine Langworthy will run at state for the first time. She had her best race of the season at the section, finishing seventh at 19:56.1.

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"She ran determined, confident, and smart," Brever said. "After 800 meters, you could see on her face she was locked in and ready to fight. She fought with the best of them.

"Seven girls in our section have been ranked 12th or higher in the state at some point throughout the year."

Staples-Motley Cardinals

Eighth-grader Kira Sweeney, ranked sixth, will run at state for the first time. Cardinals coach Bruce Fuhrman believes Sweeney, the Section 8-1A runner-up, has an opportunity for a top 10 finish since she's running times in the low 19:00s.

"Kira is peaking at the right time," Fuhrman said. "Her competitive edge is shaping our entire program of young athletes and this impact will be seen in the seasons to come. She has not only worked hard in the physical training of the program, but also in the mental preparation needed to have high success in this sport. To say the least, I am proud of her growth and season accomplishments."

Emmet Anderson, another eighth-grader, also will make his first state trip after a fifth-place section finish. He's running times in the mid 16:00s which Fuhrman believes will place him in the top third at state.

"He has a much higher goal-a top 25 finish," Fuhrman said. "He is one of those ordinary kids who accomplishes extraordinary things. He is a competitor and could build up a substantial lead on an opponent. He is a unique athlete in what he has accomplished as an eighth-grade runner."

Pierz Pioneers

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Sophomore Jake Andres, who will run at state for the first time, has been running on the varsity since eighth grade. Andres has earned first-team All-Central Minnesota Conference honors the last two years, finishing eighth last year and fifth this fall.

Andres qualified for state with a 10th-place section finish.

"Last summer Jake decided to take his running to another level and he ran 350 miles before the season started in August," Pierz coach Rey Zimney said. "This extra work paid off immediately as he placed fifth, second and fifth in our first three meets. He finished in the top 10 in every race that he ran in this year."

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