Battling a mixture of cold temperatures and heavy snow, the Forest Lake boys cross country team finished in fourth place of 16 teams last Thursday in Cloquet.The host team captured the Section 7AA title, followed by Chisago Lakes and Andover.
The Ranger boys were finally able to return a nearly healthy squad after suffering from numerous setbacks this season at the varsity level.
Juniors Quinn Duffy and Chris Delgado took charge to pave the way for the Rangers again after strong finishes at the Suburban East Conference meet. Duffy took 19th in a field of 109 with a time of 16:58, a personal best for the Ranger, while Delgado followed two places later in 17:05.
“Quinn and Chris have just stepped up nicely to meet the challenge of being the top runners for us,” head coach Deno Johnson said. “Quinn has just been a picture of consistency and Chris ran hard with a fire and a passion in order to try to qualify for state. They came up just short but gave everything they could.”
Junior Leo Hipp and sophomore Tommy Babcock returned to the lineup for Forest Lake after Hipp sat out two weeks and Babcock rested from running for a month. Both still managed to finish strong. Hipp placed 27th with a time of 17:24 while Babcock raced for 40th place in 17:53.
“After being a month with no running and just doing other fitness exercises to maintain strength? Tommy fought his way through that race,” Johnson said. “He would have finished a full minute faster if not for those hiccups this season.”
Junior Riley Schilling crossed the finish line one-tenth of a second later to take 41st and close the scoring. Junior John Reiling and sophomore Davis Long took 43rd and 84th place, respectively.
Johson said he was proud of the way his runners toughed out the 2013 season.
“We knew this year was a rebuilding year for the program, and they did everything I could ask of them — that goes for the whole crew,” Johnson said. “Things are looking just neat for next year; we’re excited to return a strong team. On paper, we’re looking good.”