BEMIDJI – While fans, parents and supporters of the Bemidji cross country runners shivered from the cold, Lumberjack sophomore Megan Serratore was warming to the task at hand.
Her job was to finish among the top eight runners not on the first and second place teams at Thursday’s Section 8-2A meet held at Greenwood Golf Course. If she could accomplish that feat, Serratore would achieve her goal of competing at next week’s state competition.
Moorhead and Willmar placed 1-2 in the team competition and will represent Section 8-2A at state. But only two of their runners made the individual top 10 so the battles for the individual state berths were fierce.
“When I had about one-half mile to go I heard someone yell out that I was 12th,” Serratore said. “So I had some catching up to do.”
Serratore held nothing back during the stretch run and her ability to pass two runners just before the finish line proved crucial as the sophomore placed seventh among the eight state qualifiers with a time of 15:22.0.
That finish was rewarded with a state berth and Serratore will join teammate Jenna Truedson at Hamline University next Saturday.
Truedson finished fourth individually and also qualified for the state meet.
“Jenna did what she had to do and that was qualify for the state meet,” said BHS coach Ryan Aylesworth.
“And what an awesome accomplishment for Megan. She played tennis and ran cross country this fall and because she was a two-sport athlete in the same season she had so much extra work to do on her own. And that extra work paid off.”
Truedson finished the race in 14:51.9 and trailed Megan and Bethany Hasz of Alexandria and Mariah Betzler of Monticello.
Bemidji’s third runner to cross the line was Morgan Sagedahl who was 57th (16:57). Also placing for Bemidji, which finished seventh in the team chase, were Emma Brokl who was 64th (17:09.7), Dani Gronhovd who was 71st (17:01.3), Atomic Thorson who placed 92nd (17:53.6) and Amber Smith who was 104th (18:43.4).
When the race was over few competitors were as elated as Serratore.
“And I’m also so relieved,” she said. “My goal was to get to state this year but I was kind of a bubble runner as far as making state.
“This is a tough course with all of the hills and we had tough conditions (Thursday) but I think this is one of my best races.”
Serratore’s plan was to stay among the leaders while still running at a comfortable pace.
“I wanted to have something left at the end,” she said. “And I did. I passed two girls a few seconds before the finish line and that was the difference.”
“Megan ran a great race. She ran a smart race,” Aylesworth said. “She ran the perfect race.
“Megan did a great job of battling,” the coach continued. “She was with a group of girls all fighting for the final state spots and Megan won the battle. She did exactly what she needed to do and what she wanted to do. I couldn’t be happier for her.”
Section 8-2A Meet
Moorhead * 80, Willmar * 83, Monticello 94, Alexandria 109, Brainerd 125, Sartell 152, Bemidji 205, Little Falls 225, Rocori 262, Detroit Lakes 263, Fergus Falls 323, St. Cloud Tech 334, Becker 359, Sauk Rapids 383, Thief River Falls 411, St. Cloud Apollo 442
*-state team qualifiers
1-M.Hasz (Alex) 14:10.1
4-Jenna Truedson* 14:51.9; 9-Megan Serratore* 15:22.0; 57-Morgan Sagedahl 16:57.0; 64-Emma Brokl 17:09.7; 71-Dani Gronhovd 17;16.9; 92-Atomic Thorson 17:53.6; 104-Amber Smith 18:43.4
*-state individual qualifiers