State Meet: One is a lonely number
Scary. Strange. Awkward.
Those are just a few words Blue Earth Area sophomore Marissia Hagedorn and United South Central freshman Hannah Goemann used to describe how they felt at the final cross country meet of the year.
Throughout the season the two standout harriers relied on their teammates during a race; whether it was for setting a pace or just to gauge how they were doing.
But, at the State Meet held Nov. 7 at St. Olaf in Northfield that wasn’t the case.
Hagedorn qualified for State as an individual by placing seventh at the Section 2A Meet in Fairmont, while Goemann finished three places behind in the 10th and final-qualifying spot.
For Hagedorn, it was the fourth straight year she’s raced on the 4,000-meter course.
Three times it was as a member of a Buc girls squad participating in the team portion at State.
This time, however, she’d be competing by herself.
“It felt awful at first, being at the starting line all by yourself,” says Hagedorn. “Once the race started I just wanted to keep with the others next to me.”
Goemann admits the State Meet may have been a little intimidating.
Even though the two-time varsity letterwinner was making her State cross country debut, Goemann isn’t exactly a novice when it comes to big meets.
Earlier this year, the Rebels took part in the Swain Invite in Duluth featuring 23 Class A teams and more than 180 runners.And, at last year’s State Track Meet she was a member of the 4 x 400-meter relay squad that took home a fifth-place medal.
“It was really weird not running with my teammates. I had to focus, I was running against some of the best girls in the state,” she says.
Although they did not have their teammates by their side, Hagedorn and Goemann were surrounded by familiar faces at the starting line.
Both were placed in the same lane and with runners they had competed against during the season.
There was one runner in particular — Tara Roelofs of Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet — Hagedorn and Goemann had their sights on and wanted to try and keep up with.
“I was doing good for the first 100 meters, then she took off,” says Hagedorn.
Goemann says after 50 meters Roelofs was out of view and lost in a mass of runners.
“After I couldn’t see her I just tried to run my own race” she says.
Hagedorn ended up finishing 32nd overall with a time of 16:01 — 41 spots and 12 seconds better than last year. Goemann was the 114th runner to cross the finish line in 17:14.
“I felt good for the first mile, but then I started to feel tired,” says Hagedorn. “But, I ran better than I thought I would.”
Head coach Tom Plocker says he’s happy and pleased with Hagedorn’s performance.
“I don’t think it (State) was too intimidating for her. She knew what to expect,” he says. “Not being part of a team, I don’t think there was as much pressure. She was more relaxed.”
Goemann and Rebels coach Kent Viesselman’s measurement of success was to “start smart and finish strong” in the race.
“I think I did that. But you always kind of feel like you could have done better,” says Goemann.
Both athletes credit their teammates for helping them get to State.
Goemann says four volunteered to train with her in preparation for the meet.
“They didn’t have to practice with me. They pushed me to make me better,” she adds.
Hagedorn and Goemann also had quite a cheering section along the race route — parents, fans, a grandmother, alumni and an aunt.
Their teammates, of course, also were there for encouragement and to provide the comraderie that can only be experienced by being part of a team.
“We all told each other if we don’t make it as a team we would still go and support whomever made it,” says Hagedorn.
Both athletes vow to set the bar higher and run more miles over the summer in hopes of returning to Northfield again.
You can bet they’ll want their teammates by their side next time.