LARP qualifies two for state cross-country meet

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Luke O’Hare made history last week. When O’Hare won the boy’s Section 1A cross country title, it was the first time the meet champion has come from a LARP team or, for that matter, from Lewiston-Altura or Rushford-Peterson, in the many years before they combined their teams. O’Hare’s victory advances him to the MSHSL state meet, held Sat. Nov 3 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Sophomore standout O’Hare will be joined by senior teammate Aidan Ellinghuysen, who also qualified for state by placing in the top eight individuals. “It was so great to see Aidan earn a spot at state,” said LARP coach Matt Kingsbury. “He put in the miles this summer and it’s always nice to see that effort rewarded. I don’t think I have the words for Luke. He’s just a great racer. I’m looking forward to seeing both the guys enjoy the state meet experience together.”

Boy’s race

While O’Hare won the race handily, he had plenty of challenges, trading leads with runners from PEM, Stewartville, and St. Charles over the hilly 5000-meters at Northern Hills Golf Course in Rochester. O’Hare used a strong kick over the last 800 meters to lose his competition and enter the chute in 17:01. PEM junior Samson Hagen was the runner-up, finishing in 17:07. As noted, LARP’s next finisher was Ellinghuysen, who placed 10th in 17:29. Nearly a minute lapsed before a LARP runner made the finish line; junior Ricky Buchanan placed 38th (18:28), followed closely by Mitchell Ledebuhr in 40th (18:29). Freshman Tyler Rislov was the next LARP finisher, placing 45th  (19:39) and sophomore Aleric Frick hit the chute in 55th place (18:54). Eight grader Gabe Huelskamp, running in just his second varsity race, was the final LARP finisher, covering the course in 19:35 and placing 78th.

PEM used strong pack-running to claim the boy’s team title with 53 points. Lake City finished second (82 points) and also earned a trip to Northfield. La Crescent-Hokah was third (102) and LARP fourth (131). Stewartville rounded out the top five (143 points) in the 22-team boy’s field.

Girl’s highlights

For only the second time this season, LARP fielded a full girl’s team and Kingsbury was pleased with their section meet performance. “I was happy with their 13th place finish,” he said. “All the girls ran well, but Ellie (Ekern), Lauren (Honken) and Hannah (Linder) really had great races. They all ran their personal best times, which can be hard to do in a big meet like this.”

As expected, Winona Cotter sisters Grace and Lauren Ping notched another 1-2 finish. Grace Ping topped the 136-runner girl’s field, covering the 5000-meter course in 17:49 and beat sister Lauren by twenty seconds. LARP’s top finisher was 7th grader Ellie Ekern, who ran 21:55 to place 37th. She was followed closely by a pair of teammates: sophomore Hannah Linder was 38th (21:57) and 7th grader Lauren Honken was 39th (21:58). Grace Buchanan was LARP next finisher, running 24:20 to grab 98th. Jenessa Larsen rounded out the LARP girl’s squad, placing 106th with a time of 25:04.

As noted, the LARP girls placed 13th, a solid finish for the young squad in a field of 20 teams. Winona Cotter claimed the girl’s team title, placing three runners in the top four to score 72 points. Lake City grabbed the runner-up spot, and a trip to the state meet, scoring 84 points. Stewartville (114), Rochester Lourdes (145) and Rochester Area Home Schools (169) rounded out the top five teams.

State meet

LARP runners O’Hare and Ellinghuysen will compete in the Class A state meet Sat. Nov. 3 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. The Class A boys will run at 1 p.m., followed by the Class A girls at 2 p.m. The AA races will be held in the morning, with the boys running at 10 a.m., followed by the girls at 11 a.m.