21 August 2013

Boys Cross Country: Hyytinen and more

Justin Hyytinen (front), Alex Hart (l) and Devon Webb (r) are ready to jump into the season
Last year the big story in the Tiger camp was the emergence of Justin Hyytinen as an elite runner. The speedy sophomore burst on to the varsity scene with a third place finish in the Missota Conference and a 29th place effort at the state meet in his first year out for the sport.

Hyytinen's success along with four runners from a strong senior class and a couple of newcomers translated into a fourth place finish in the conference and a sixth place ranking in Section 1AA.

The Tigers lost four of their starting seven runners to graduation but Hyytinen looks to have plenty of help in 2013 as they try to move up further up both the conference and section ladders.

"We have our expectations set on top three place finishes in both the conference and section," Tiger coach Lisa Lippold said. "As long as the kids give it their best and stay healthy, we will have a great finish to the season."

Two other varsity regulars from 2012, senior Sean Dougherty and sophomore Alex Hart, should supply Hyytinen with quality support.

Senior Hunter Sevenich, junior Richard Halverson and sophomores Josh Grimm, Ryan Newton and Devon Webb have all performed will in early practices and should push for a spot in the top seven. Webb is in his first year of cross country, having run a leg on the Tigers' 4x800 relay team that placed high in last spring's Class AA track meet.

"We are running in some big-talent races this season," Lippold said. "These meets will showcase the best runners in the state. They should help us get ready for the conference and section."

Among the top level meets on the schedule this season are the multi-state Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota and invites at Apple Valley and Chaska.

Lippold said two factors signal Farmington fortunes are on the rise: 1) Most of the athletes are now accustomed to the program and 2) A majority of the varsity hopefuls have logged a lot of summer miles.

"I feel like we are in better shape at this point in the season than in any year I have been here," she said.

Lippold sees the race for the Missota Conference title wide open with Chaska and Shakopee the early favorites. Red Wing also returns a strong team and could be a factor in Section 1AA where 2012 champion Owatonna runner-up Rochester Century will both field young teams.

Tom Hart returns as Lippold's varsity assistant coach. Keith Revels and Connie Berg will coach the middle school team.

After a time trial this Friday at Northfield the Tigers jump into their regular season schedule next Friday (Aug 29) with their annual appearance at the Dakota County Championships at Eagan High School.

Assiaant Coach Hart on a practice run with (l to r) Ryan Newton, Derek Cole and Josh Grimm