Isabelle Berg finished second for the Gophers at the section meet.
Isabelle Berg finished second for the Gophers at the section meet. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/CHATFIELD NEWS

Coach Chris Frye was happy with the Chatfield cross-country season, which ended with the Section 1A meet last Thursday. 

“Going in, we had the goals of the boys' team improving over last year and the girls' team moving up to finish in the top six,” he said. “We didn't achieve those goals, but I can't fault the effort. We had 11 of the 14 runners run their fastest time of the year, despite cold and very windy conditions. So the effort was certainly there.

“I think just the whole field was tougher than a year ago. The boys' team slipped one spot despite shaving 18 seconds off their average time and 25 points off their team score from last year. And the girls moved up from 14th last year to eighth this year, improving their average time by over a minute and their team score by 151 points. So definite improvement but falling short of very aggressive goals.”

The results bode well for the future, he added. The Chatfield girls' section lineup featured two sophomores, one ninth grader, three eighth graders and a seventh grader, so the team will have all those back next season. Eighth grader Tessa McMahon ran the program’s third-fastest 5K of all time, and seventh grader Aletta Strande had the 11th fastest mark so they join teammates Isabelle Berg and Beatrice Martin on the program’s honor roll, said Frye.

“The boys do lose three seniors from the lineup, but we have a bunch of younger runners who I think will step up and fill in,” noted the coach.

“For the season as a whole, this was a great group of kids to coach,” he said. “With 39 runners, this was our largest team ever. They have a positive attitude and strong work ethic, so I expect good things next year.”

The girls team finished eighth in the field of 22 teams with 250 points.  Cotter won the Section 1A crown with 50 points, followed by Stewartville, 69 points.  Both will advance to the state meet in Northfield, St. Olaf College, on Saturday.  The Class A girls run at 1 p.m.

McMahon was the top Chatfield finisher at 24th, completing the 5,000 meters in 21:11.5.  She was followed by Isabelle Berg (41st, 21:52.5), Beatrice Martin (55th, 22:17.3), Aletta Strande (64th, 22:38.5), Abbi Gillespie (66th, 22:41.5), Katelyn Dornack (75th, 23:07.1) and Kaylee Maker (81st, 23:13.9). 

A total of 150 runners completed the course, won by Grace Ping (18:11.9), Cotter.  The sophomore is the No. 1 ranked runner in the state for Class A.  Her sister, Lauren, was second, and seventh grader Natasha Sortland, Z-M/K-W, was third.  Lauren Ping is also a seventh grader. Three seventh graders finished in the top 10. 

In the boys race Chatfield was 15th of 23 teams with 352 points.  La Crescent (85) and Rochester Area Home School (95) finished one and two and will represent Section 1A at the state meet. 

Individually, Dillon Nolan (56th, 18:58.3) was the first Chatfield runner across the finish line. There may have been a little special motivation for this graduating senior in his final section meet.  Nolan was followed by Cody Guenther (68th, 19:19.5), Brady Woltz (72nd, 19:28.6), Cooper Frederick (73rd, 19:28.9), Alex Wright (83rd, 19:39.4), Josh Walsh (101st, 20:20.9) and Isaac Miron (106th, 20:35.7). 

A total of 157 runners completed the Section 1A championship race, with Matt Steiger, La Crescent (16:01.6) coming in first.  Nick Meyer, Wabasha-Kellogg, three-time winner of the Chatfield Invitational (The Shoe) came in second (16:25.2).  Steiger is ranked No. 2 in the state for the 1A boys.

The state meet for the 1A boys starts at 2 p.m., Saturday.  The AA girls start at 10 a.m. and the AA boys will begin at 11 a.m.