Boys team, Becker hope to qualify for state meet
There's no sense setting goals if they are set too low.
The Storm Lake boys and girls cross country teams have set lofty, but reachable goals for Thursday's district meet at Brooks-Arrowhead golf course in Spirit Lake.
According to SLHS junior A.J. Croker, the Tornado boys have an outside shot at placing in the top three, which qualify for the state meet as teams.
"We'll have to run the best we've run all season, and we might need a few breaks, but I think we have a shot," he said. "You never know what's going to happen with some teams. One of their top runners might not run because of illness or injury, or maybe a couple of teams will just have bad races."
Though this is Croker's' first year in cross country, he's been the SLHS boys' top runner all season and has medaled at every meet except the season opener.
He's also set some high individual goals as well.
"Our district is by far the best of any in the state, and there are good runners on every team," he said.
"But if I run well, I think I can finish in the top ten individuals and qualify for state."
Brostad reiterated what Croker said about about Storm Lake's district.
According to the Oct. 11 3A prep cross country ranking voted on by coaches across the state, there are five ranked teams in the Spirit Lake district.
They include fourth-ranked Spirit Lake, sixth-ranked Spencer, 10th-ranked Garner Hayfield and 13th ranked Humbolt. The Tornado boys were ranked 15th in Class 3A.
The top three team finishers qualify for state, and the top ten individuals, including those on the qualifying teams, qualify for state as well.
Brostad has lobbied for taking the top 10 or 15 runners not on the teams that qualify for state.
"On some of the ranked teams in our district, some will have three and four runners finish in the top ten," the coach said. "Often there is a situation where a runner from our district has a faster time that one in another district."
In addition to Croker, others running for the Tornado boys today include David Brady, Ryan Lovstad, Jesse Munger, Daren Koehler, Geoff Ullerich and Joe Cullen.
Brostad hopes his team runs in a pack, but closer to the leaders than towards the back of the field.
Individually, Croker hopes to finish in the top ten and qualify for state. He also wants to run under his best time of the season for 5,000 meters, which is 17 minutes, 15 seconds.
"I won't change my strategy, which has been to go out fast among the leaders and keep running strong," he said.
The Tornado girls, meanwhile, haven't had the success the boys have had in terms of team placings. According to No. 1 runner, sophomore Christine Becker, the SLHS girls have shown steady improvement since late August.
Brostad says Becker, who's medaled in every meet this season, has a shot at qualifying for the state meet. As a freshman last year, Becker was 17th.
Becker added that she is running well going into today's district meet.
"Overall, I might have had a better season last year," she said. "But from the beginning of this season to the end, I've made more improvement than last year."
The sophomore, who attends St. Mary's, enters the meet with a season's best time of 16:05. That was at the Spirit Lake Invitational held at the Brooks-Arrowhead Course.
Becker said she'll have to improve on that time to qualify for state.
"You'll have to run in the low 16's or the high 15's to qualify," she said.
"The way I've been running late in the season, Coach (Brostad) thinks I have a good shot at state."
Four runners will compete today along with Becker, including Heather Douglas, Amanda Cavanaugh, Lindsey Cavanaugh and Julie Manatham.
Brostad said the girls field at districts might be more talented than the boys field.
It includes third-ranked Estherville-Lincoln Central-AR, fourth-ranked Spirit Lake Park, 7th-ranked Spencer and ninth-ranked Garner Hayfield-West Hancock.
Becker added that the SLHS girls team has also shown steady improvement since late August.
"Heather (Douglas) has run much faster races than she did last season," Becker said.
"And Amanda and Lindsey (Cavanaugh) also ran well late in the season."
Manatham, a senior missed part of the season due to an injury.