FL girls take fourth in Apple Jack Invite

Girls’ cross country moves up a spot from last year in 18-team race


Kat Ladwig
Sports Editor

On a day ideal for outdoor running, the Forest Lake girls’ cross country team kicked it into high gear to take fourth place at the Lakeville North Apple Jack Invitational on Saturday.

The 18-team competition was held in Aronson Park in Lakeville, and hundreds showed up to watch the racing showcase, where No.1-ranked Eagan (Class AA) took first with the only team average time under 15 minutes. No. 6 Lakeville South and No. 10 Edina captured the second and third spots, respectively.

“We were content,” Ranger head coach Eric Kaluza said. “You always want to improve, and we moved up a spot from last year. The girls ran a good race, and I’m proud of how we did.”

The ninth-ranked Rangers had two top-10 finishes with eighth-grader Allie Bartlett placing seventh with a time of 14:51, and ninth-grader Emma Benner taking the No.10 spot with a time of 14:57. Forest Lake eighth-graders Maria Valentin, Miranda Overland and Isabel Leininger all contributed to the fourth-place finish by staying under the 16-minute mark.

Forest Lake also knocked down its average time from 16:05 at the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejacket Invite two weeks ago to 15:28 in Lakeville.

The drop in time is a combination of hard work by the Ranger girls at practice and differences in course structure. Kaluza said the prior course at Cambridge was very difficult with a lot of change in terrain, while the Apple Jack Invite presented a smoother surface.  The Forest Lake coach said it’s important to choose races with varying degrees of difficulty throughout the season in order to keep improving, a feat not easy in a such a competitive sport.

At the Lakeville course, the Rangers went up against runners like the 2011-12 Gatorade Minnesota Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year, senior Maria Hauger from Shakopee, who placed first with a dominant time of 13:37.

The next varsity race is the Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights on Saturday, Sept. 29. The JV squad will compete at the Mustang Invitational on Friday, Sept. 28.