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Cross Country Running: Warriors' goal to match 2010 finish

Class 2A state meet St. Olaf College, Northfield Class 2A boys, 1 p.m.: Brainerd's Matt Cherne, Tyler Moore of Little Falls, Hunter Zupko of Little Falls Class 2A girls, 2 p.m.: Brainerd team For the first time since 2010, the Brainerd Warriors q...

Class 2A state meet

St. Olaf College, Northfield

Class 2A boys, 1 p.m.: Brainerd's Matt Cherne, Tyler Moore of Little Falls, Hunter Zupko of Little Falls

Class 2A girls, 2 p.m.: Brainerd team

For the first time since 2010, the Brainerd Warriors qualified a girls team this fall for the Class 2A state cross country meet.

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The Warriors hope to make the most of that opportunity Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Meritt Miller, Emily Rugloski, Lily Schaeffer, Grace Erholtz, Molly Selisker, Ali Crochet and Ellie Selisker will represent the Warrior girls. Brainerd coach Dave Herath said the team has set a goal but it's difficult to relate to the times from other section teams that have qualified for state.

"It's not like track where you can compare times to times because every (cross country) course is different," he said. "In looking at the other sections, there are probably 4-5 teams that we're not going to beat. I see us anywhere from sixth to 12th place. We could run great and be 12th. We could run great and be sixth.

"Where I set their goal is matching the 2010 team (which finished sixth). Historically we should be in the 6-7-8 range and hopefully that's where we end up."

Herath said the key is how the team runs as a pack.

"We've got a pretty good pack of girls," he said. "If we can be above the bubble of the main group of runners, then we should be on the higher end of things. If we're in the middle of that bubble, we'll be a little bit farther back."

Miller, the Warriors' No. 1 runner all season, finished 10th at the section. She was followed by Emily Rugloski 18th, Lily Schaeffer 22nd, Grace Erholtz 23rd, Molly Selisker 28th, Ali Crochet 29th and Ellie Selisker 83rd.

"Meritt's individual goal is to be all-state, which is top 25," Herath said. "In looking at her times historically, she's anywhere from 18th to 30th place. That's what she's shooting for and hopefully that pans out.

'It's a tough era to be a cross country runner. In looking back at some of our other teams that have done really well, we're every bit as good as they were but it's a lot more competitive now. The bar just goes higher and higher."

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In the boys meet, Brainerd's Matt Cherne finished 11th in the section to become the first Warrior boy to advance to state since 2009. His goal is to run one of the top 10 times in program history and finish in the top 30. A time of 16:46 or faster would make Brainerd's top 10 on the state meet course, 16:12 would be top 10 for a Warrior senior at state.

"If he reaches those, I'm sure he will place just fine," Herath said. "Matt's run against a lot of top competition. This shouldn't be anything new for him. It's not like we've beaten up the weak sisters of the poor, then we finally hit some faster runners. He's used to those times and that should help him out."

Little Falls Flyers

Tenth-ranked Tyler Moore will make his third trip to state where he finished 18th last year.

"Our goal is top 10 this time around," Flyers coach Jeff Massmann said.

Teammate Hunter Zupko will make his first state cross country appearance.

"But Hunter has advanced (to state) in Nordic (skiing) before," Massmann said. "A top 35 finish would be a great showing for Hunter."

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