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Cross-Country: East Ridge, Math and Science Academy, Woodbury prepare for state cross-country

The East Ridge boys cross-country team, and two of the East Ridge girls runners, Halle Mestery and Gwyneth Gerlach, qualified for the state cross-country meet on Saturday, Nov. 3. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 3
Tiffany Holiday (left), Anna Muellner (middle) and Aidan Browne (right) qualified as individual runners for Woodbury for the state cross-country meet on Saturday, Nov. 3. Submitted Photo2 / 3
The East Ridge boys cross-country team huddled together after learning they made it to state as a team. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 3

It will be a busy day for East Ridge, Math and Science Academy and Woodbury on Saturday, Nov. 3, as the three schools have teams and individuals competing in the state cross-country meet at St. Olaf College.

Here's everything to preview the runners and teams from the three schools in preparation for the state meet.

East Ridge

The Raptors will have many runners representing East Ridge at the state meet as the boys have the entire team coming and the girls will be represented by two runners, Halle Mestery and Gwyneth Gerlach.

Before the season started, the boys were discussing their hopes of making history this season. They did just that on Thursday, Oct. 25.

This is the first time in East Ridge boys' cross-country program history that the entire team will be competing in the state meet. It was a big accomplishment and the excitement was shown by the boys when they saw East Ridge bolded on the results.

After that, they started jumping around and hugging one another with smiles across their faces. All of the runners agreed that it was probably one of their favorite moments ever, and a moment they will cherish for a long time.

"Being able to go as a team is unbelievable," said sophomore John Faller. "We're all so proud to be a part of this team this season."

Obviously the boys team would like to place high and win the state meet, but they don't have expectations for Saturday. Instead, they said they will enjoy the moments together as a team and run as best they can.

For the girls, the team was just shy of making it to state as a team. It was a close race on Thursday's section meet, but Prior Lake scored 104 for second place and East Ridge finished third with 107.

Fortunately for the Raptors girls, Mestery and Gerlach were able to finish in the top eight individually to claim spots in the state meet. Both of them are excited to race, and excited to race with a teammate.

"It'll be fun to experience state with [Gwyneth]," Mestery said. "We're just hoping to run our best races on that Saturday."

Mestery went to state last season and is hoping to finish in the top 30 for all-state honors this year. Gerlach is just excited to experience the state atmosphere and run as best she can and see where it falls for results.

The two runners have different strategies when it comes to the race. Mestery said she likes to get in the front right away and establish her pace by herself. Gerlach said she's more in the middle of the group and will race individuals throughout the race to get closer to the front towards the end of the race.

"I just pick people in front of me and try to catch up with them," Gerlach said. "I tried running in the front one time and it didn't work well for me, so I like to stay in the middle of the pack in the beginning."

The boys team and the two girls are excited to get over to St. Olaf College on Saturday. They will have another normal practice week in preparation for next weekend, but overall they are proud to represent East Ridge at the state meet.

Math and Science Academy

The Math and Science Academy Dragons competed in the Section 4A cross-country meet on Thursday, Oct. 25. The boys and girls teams didn't advance to state as a whole, but two girls and one boy made it individually.

For two of the runners, the expectations are pretty high, but overall the three just want to enjoy the experience.

On the girls side, sophomore Tierney Wolfgram and eighth grader Greta Hansen will be competing. This is the fourth time Wolfgram will be running at state and the second time for Hansen.

Wolfgram won the Class A girls' state championship last year and is hoping to repeat that title this season. She was the clear-cut winner at the section meet on Thursday as she finished about a minute and a half ahead of the second-place finisher.

Just like the track and field season, Wolfgram's biggest competition at state will be the Ping sisters from Cotter. The Ping sisters beat Wolfgram at state track and field last spring, but Wolfgram said she was looking forward to cross country because she believes that's her favorite sport out of the two.

Hansen is looking to improve from last year's state meet and continuing to develop her skills as a runner heading into her freshman year.

"These two girls have some great running skills," said coach Brendan Ruter. "They understand the atmosphere of the state meet and they know what the competition will be like at state."

On the boys side, junior Harris Anderson advanced to the state meet for the third time in his running career. This time was special for him because he had to fight his way into the state meet.

During the past month, Anderson hasn't been running in any meets or even practicing that much with the team. He's been at physical therapy appointments and resting due to quad and knee injuries that came up during the middle of the season.

He hasn't been able to run that much during this month, but knew he wanted to get back for the section meet last Thursday. He placed third overall at sections, which allowed him to advance to state.

Even though he's happy he made it to state for a third time, he's not finished. Ruter said he has higher expectations at state this season and hopes to achieve them Saturday.

"Harris has been working hard to get back for this section meet," Ruter said. "I'm proud that he was able to make it to state this year."

Woodbury

The Woodbury Royals had a similar outcome as Math and Science Academy in the section meet on Wednesday. It resulted in two girls and one boy making it to the state meet for the Royals.

For the girls side, it was two runners that have very opposite running styles and running experiences, but similar goals. Juniors Tiffany Holiday and Anna Muellner formed a strong friendship this season when Muellner decided to join cross-country for the first time. Muellner was a track and field runner, but never cross-country.

Muellner also ran sprints for track, so running longer distances wasn't exactly what she focused on. At the beginning of the season, Muellner said her goal was to honestly make it through one of the races. Now, she's heading to the state meet.

"It's been a really fun season and I'm so glad I joined cross-country this year," Muellner said. "I've learned so much from everyone this season and I can't wait to go to state with Tiffany."

Holiday has been running cross country for a number of years and longer distances have always been comfortable for her. Her season started off differently though because she had to rest her body during the summer.

Holiday wasn't able to train that much during the summer due to an injury she was recovering from, so her first cross-country meet in September was a step in the right direction.

Holiday made it to the state meet last year and knew what it took to reach it again this season. When she stepped across the finish line, there was a sigh of relief because she knew she was heading back to state again.

"We've been able to learn from each other this season," Holiday said. "It's been so much fun getting to know Anna and I'm glad I'll be able to run with her at state next weekend."

On the boys side, junior Aidan Browne will be joining the two girls at state this Saturday. Browne said he's been working ever since the beginning of summer on his conditioning and being ready for the start of the season.

It's taken a lot of work and so much support from family, friends, teammates and coaches for him to reach his goal of competing at state.

"I'm just excited to race against the best runners in the state," Browne said. "I'm so proud to represent Woodbury at the state meet and run the best race I possibly can [Saturday]."

The state cross-country meet will take place at St. Olaf College in Northfield on Saturday, Nov. 3. The times are spread out during the morning and afternoon.

The Class AA boys will start the day with a 10 a.m. race, which will include the East Ridge boys team and Browne from Woodbury. The Class AA girls will follow after the boys at 11 a.m. for their race as Holiday and Muellner from Woodbury as well as Mestery and Gerlach from East Ridge will race.

After a break around the noon hour, the Class A boys will race at 1 p.m., including Anderson from Math and Science Academy. Then, the Class A girls will round out the day at 2 p.m. for their race including Wolfgram and Hansen from Math and Science Academy.

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

(651) 301-7859
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