Qualifying for the state meet isn't a surprise for the La Crescent boys.
How they got there is, though.
The Lancers lost their top runner, Zack Emery, to a foot injury in July. Emery missed most of this season but returned for the final kick and ended up winning the section title for the second year in a row.
This is also the teams 2nd straight trip to state and 13th overall.
Not having Emery for most of the season helped the team develop depth, which came in handy at last week's section meet. "It feels pretty great. We were the underdogs. It feels great just to come back for the win," Emery said.
"Kind of nice that we have six of the seven kids who ran last year are back. So hopefully that will eliminate the "deer-in-the-headlights" look that they kind of had last year. We were so young last year. Now we're a year older but we still don't have a senior on the team. It's kind of nice to have a little bit of youth, yet be experienced youth," said head coach Mark Abraham, who's in his 32nd year leading the program.
The MSHSL State Cross Country Meet is Saturday at St. Olaf College.