Last Thursday, the cold rain and snow stopped falling just before North Branch eighth grader Rhianna Rinke began her successful quest for a girls cross country section medal and a trip to state.
Rinke took third place out of 110 competitors, finishing in the frigid Section 7AA 4000 meter (2.5 mile) run at Princeton Golf Course with a time of 15:06.5.
Rinke was in the lead during most of the run and in second place as she neared the finish line. Moments before the end, however, the runner in third position sprinted to pass her by and leave her with a third place finish. But Rinke smiled, knowing she had medaled and would be going to the state championship.
As a team the girls placed seventh out of 16 teams.
Viking juniors Casey Hovland came in 23rd (16:17.2), Haley Huset 32nd (16:26.1) and Cassidy White 54th (17:03.5).
Sophomore Claire Schraufnagel placed 62nd (17:24.4), senior Alyssa Ramberg 69th (17:29.6) and freshman Laura Dolezalek 75th (17:37.8).
The boys team finished 12th out of 16 teams.
The first Viking boy to cross the finish line was senior Zach Peno who placed 43rd out of 112 runners with a time of 17:56.1 in the 5000m (3.5 mile) race.
Junior Kyle Crowell placed 44th (17:56.4), senior Ean Charpentier 64th (18:23.4), freshman Josh Petrik 67th (18:26.9), junior Kyle Granger 72nd (18:32.4), senior Jake Petrik 85th (18:49.8) and freshman Scott Ramberg 90th (19:09.7).
“It was a flat, spectator-friendly course that produced our state participant for the North Branch team,” said coach Anna Geary. “The girls team placed right where they were ranked and also ran some fast, consistent times. I was excited to see the boys team finish two places ahead of last year. They had to run in cold temps after having warmed up in pelting snow. The boys ran some fast times, and some were able to finish near each other, attempting to pack it up like at conference champs.”
Added Geary, “Some of the kids left feeling a little disappointed, hoping to have run their season personal records. There was a good feeling all around as the team rallied for Rhianna who is moving on to state. It is just a testament to how amazing these kids are. Putting others before themselves always. It has been another fantastic season, and I already can’t wait for next year to begin. We are hoping to have a whole lot more joining us next year at state.”
Only the first and second place teams at the section championship, as well as the top eight individuals who are not a member of the first or second place teams, qualify for the state competition. Rinke will compete in the State High School Class AA Girls Cross Country Championship at St. Olaf College in Northfield at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.