Senior Luke Labatte and the Rosemount girls' varsity cross-country team competed in the Class AA state cross-country meet this Saturday on the campus of St. Olaf College. Labatte went for the win with an aggressive plan in his last race for the Irish and ended up taking seventh with a time of 15 minutes, 40.4 seconds in a talented field. The Irish girls finished 11th with 269 points, just 13 points behind 10th-place Marshall and return all seven varsity runners next season.

Labatte with another great performance

Rosemount head coach Chris Harder said the plan for Labatte was different than in years past.

"The race played out as we thought it would, he (Labatte) followed the strategy, he was going for the win and he gave his best effort," he said. Place-wise he probably dropped a few spots by running that way but he went for the title."

Labatte said he was able to hang with the top runners for a while before fading a little.

"I knew there was a lot of good guys in the field, so I knew I was going to go out hard," he said. "Acer (Iverson, who won the title) made a move down there and I hung with him until about the two-mile and then I kind of lost it. I was expecting a tough race though."

Despite the result, for the most part Labatte said he was happy with his result, though he said he could have stayed with the lead group longer.

"I knew this would be my last legit high school race besides Nike (regional race next week), so I put it all out out there and went for it," Labatte said.

Irish girls have a bright future

The Rosemount girls were once again led by seventh-grader Daisy Islas, who finished 29th with a time of 18:43.3. Following her was sophomore Avery Leppones, who took 83rd with a time of 1929.7. Two spots behind Leppones in 85th was fellow sophomore Makayla Bishop (19:32.0), eighth-grader Taylor Heimerl finished 97th in 19:41.1 and junior Kate Beckwith placed 101st with a time of 19:42.1. Sophomore Lucy Jagoe took 149th with a time of 20:30.8 and fellow sophomore Abby McNeil finished 156th in 20:44.4. The field consisted of 16 teams and 175 runners.

Though Harder did not know the official results at the time, he said he was pleased with how the girls ran.

"I thought we gave it our best effort and that's really what we look at," he said. "They felt they ran their hardest, we had a great effort out there, but I'm happy with their effort."

Reflecting back on the season, harder was happy with what the girls accomplished but was even more excited about the team's future.

"I thought the girls had a really positive season, another conference runner-up, another section championship," he said. "It's great to be at the state meet, it's a great experience for the kids. The future looks bright, obviously we have seven varsity back. Rosemount Middle School won the District 196 championship, the future looks real bright on the girls side, we had a great JV season as well, so we're real optimistic about that."

While the Irish boys did not qualify for the state meet for the first time in several years, Harder said he was pleased with their effort too and they will have their work cut out for them next year.

"We had a good season all-in-all, I know they're disappointed not to make a ninth-straight trip to the state meet, but we were happy with their effort this year," he said. "We'll reload for next year, obviously we're losing three high-quality varsity seniors, so we've got some big shoes to fill but I know other guys now will see opportunity to fill that void. There will always be some surprises, somebody will decide that it's time to really go all-in and train hard and good things can happen. We're looking forward to both, cross-country is a great sport with great kids."

Labatte, along with fellow varsity runners Danny Cox and Payne Freske, all graduate in the spring. They are joined by fellow seniors Roger Abercrombie-Long, Owen Benson, Wesley Dean, Joseph Fischbach, Lucas Hanley, Samuel Johnson, Jack Labatte, Bennett Magnuson and Zachary Zimmer. Graduating for the girls are Renee Boldus, Abigail Doran, Cassidy Gier, Maren Honcharenko, Madisyn Huss, Grace Linnett, Keely McLean and Caitlyn Storley.