Ranger boys’ cross country takes fifth at Blaine

The Forest Lake cross country boys sprint out of the blocks at the Blaine Invitational last Thursday. (Photo submitted)

Kat Ladwig
Sports Editor

Forest Lake finished fifth out of 15 teams at the Blaine Invitational last Thursday at Majestic Oaks Golf Club. The boys completed the 5K with a time of 1:27:24 and on average the Rangers ran almost a minute faster than last year, according to head coach Deno Johnson.

The running conditions were not ideal at 48 degrees and 15-20 mph wind gusts, compared to last year’s 62-degree sunny setting. Still, the Rangers raced on.

“We ran way under strength, but we were really aggressive and just ran excellently,” Johnson said.

Forest Lake also met its goal of defeating Andover again, which it did by two points and one place.

Senior Jacob Jankowski clinched second with a time of 16:13, a jump from his 18th-place finish last year, when his time had been 17:20. Johnson said Jankowski could have won the race had he not paved the way in the lead for almost two miles, allowing the two other top runners from Andover to draft behind him.

“I told him ‘do not lead,’ but he did and played right into their hands,” Johnson said. “I think he learned his lesson. Even with the running conditions, he still ran the best time a Forest Lake runner has ever run at Blaine. He just could have done even better.”

With senior Jack Ebel out for the season and sophomore Rowan Hume and Candido Sanchez struggling with injuries, ninth-grader Tommy Babcock has solidified the Forest Lake’s No. 2 spot. He finished 22nd out of 131 runners with a time of 17:26. Babcock also greatly improved from his 62nd-place finish in 2011.

Ranger sophomores Leo Hipp and Quinn Duffy kept a close pace, ending at the No. 32 and 34 spots with times of 17:46 and 17:48, respectively. Sophomore Riley Schilling also stayed in the mix and finished 58th at 18:10.

Johnson was impressed with Duffy’s performance on the day, as he achieved a personal best of 17:47, beating his record time by more than 29 seconds.

“This was Quinn’s breakthrough race, and just goes to show how hard he’s been working,” Johnson said. “We’re going to start looking to him to come up big for us in the next couple weeks.”

Forest Lake traveled Tuesday night for the Shakopee Invite, and the Rangers will next compete at the conference finals at Falcon Ridge Golf Course in Stacy on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 3:30 p.m.