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Hilltoppers competing at state cross country meet

The cross country running season is coming to an end in Northfield on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Duluth Marshall is there. The Marshall boys cross country team placed second at the Section 7A meet, allowing them to compete. Marshall cross country coach...

The cross country running season is coming to an end in Northfield on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Duluth Marshall is there.
The Marshall boys cross country team placed second at the Section 7A meet, allowing them to compete.
Marshall cross country coach Mary Moline has been pleased with their progress this year. "They have without a doubt been a team that has improved throughout the season. The guys that have been on the team this year have been with us for quite a while, and have worked hard to get where they're at. I'm sure they'll have a good race on Saturday."
The state meet will take place at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Senior Henry Lemieux can't wait to start. "We've been getting better and better at every meet. We can't wait to get started."
Lemieux enjoys the sport so much that he plans to run at college as well. "You get a lot of freedom in running. It takes a lot of work, and you can get better just by running. You don't have to be talented to run, just train." He said, "I like the individual aspect of it. You are out in the race, and you are alone. It's all up to you."
In sharing his race strategy he said, "I like to draft off the top runner and finish the best that I can. Keeping in my mind that I'm going to win, I'm going to win."
Lemieux hopes the 'Toppers can land a top five finish.
Scott Kylander-Johnson is also a coach with the team, and he said the squad did a lot of hard work during the summer. "The trick right now is to keep them healthy and not get anybody injured."
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Kylander-Johnson pushed the team for a third-place finish in the section meet, and the team surpassed those expectations. "I thought they had a chance. I thought it would be an outside chance. A couple seniors had huge races at the section meet and almost wound up winning. This group really worked hard to get where they're at. It's made it even more fun."
Pat Ferguson is another senior that will close out his prep cross country career at state. "It feels great. I've been running cross country since sixth grade, watching all of the varsity teams make it. Finally, my senior year I get to go for the first time and experience it. This is great."
Ferguson started in the sport because his friends were runners. "But I kind of stuck with it because it was really fun, and I stayed in shape running."
He feels the team can also do well in Northfield this weekend. "In years past, the best finish we've had is 11th place, but I feel we have the potential to be a top five team in the state."
Time will tell if that happens.
Duluth East boys and girls teams will also be taking part. They will be competing in the Class AA race, also at St. Olaf College. The boys Class AA race begins at 10 a.m., and the Class AA girls race begins at 11 a.m. East boys finished first at the section meet, and Grant Johnson was the overall winner. Johnson placed 14th at state last year in a time of 16:27.9.
East girls placed second in the section this year, behind Grand Rapids. The 'Hounds girls team has a long history of wins at state. They were state champions from 1992 through 1998.

Tom Hansen is the sports director for KBJR-TV News 6.

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