Tiger runners set for sections

Published 8:36 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

When the Section 1AA cross country meet begins Thursday at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna it will provide two Albert Lea runners a chance to make it to the state meet.

Ethan Marquardt and Chrissy Monson have finished no worse than sixth at every meet this season and both have their eyes cast on a trip to the state meet.

For Monson it would be her first trip to state. Monson, an eighth-grader, finished 21st at the section meet last season as a seventh-grader in just her third varsity meet. She has faced some of the best runners in the state during the season and will do so once again Thursday in Owatonna.

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Her biggest competition will come from Winona’s Claire Guidinger who finished 29th at the state meet last season. Monson finished third Oct. 2 at a meet at Brooktree that featured Guidinger and last year’s state champion Laura Hughes, of Mankato West. Monson had a time of 1:507.5 and she is looking for one of the 10 spots up for grabs at the section meet.

“She’s ran against everyone in the section and has held her own,” Albert Lea head coach Jim Haney said. “She is a tenacious runner who runs with a champion’s heart.”

It’s been an incredible rise for Monson who finished second at the Big Nine meet and ran a personal best time. Guidinger took first, but Monson beat out Hughes for second.

Monson stands on the cusp of her first trip to state and she is anxious to begin the race.

“It’s right on my fingertips and all I have to do is run a good race like what I’ve been running,” Monson said. “I want it more than anything right now.”

Marquardt finished sixth last year at the section meet and finished 34th at state last season. He’s used the experience at state last year to fuel him through this season and has a goal of placing in the top 10 at state.

“He knows he can run with some of the top runners in state, he’s demonstrated that,” Haney said. “Last year we didn’t know what to expect and we said, ‘You should be in the top 40’ and sure enough there he was. This year our goal is top 10.”

Marquardt says he has to have a time around 16 minutes flat in order to contend at the state meet, but the regular season has helped prepared him to lower his time.

Marquardt has been pushed by Winona’s Jon-Michael Brandt and Owatonna’s Jacob Bastyr all season long. He says he likes the competition and it makes him work harder.

At the Owatonna meet Oct. 2 Brandt took first with a sub-16 minute time while Bastyr took second with a time of 16:19.5, beating Marquardt by four seconds.

Those three runners have had a healthy competition and it will make for an exciting meet once again Thursday.