November 4, 2010 at 10:19 a.m.
All year, the North Branch girls cross country team has been building towards the section tournament.
That is where dreams are realized and grueling hours of hard work are put to the test.
For three Vikings, including two girls, all of that was worth it. Megan Zimmerman ran the section meet in 15:26, which was good enough for fourth place in the meet and a trip to the state tournament.
Senior Kendra Norman made sure the section race wasn't her last as a Viking, and she finished in seventh place overall with a time of 15:32 to make it to the big tournament.
Casey Hovland just barely missed out on the tournament, finishing in 14th place with a time of 15:52.
Alyssa Ramberg and Haley Huset rounded out the varsity score for North Branch with a 20th place finish and 35th place finish, respectively.
The most disappointing aspect of the race, though, had to be that as a team, the Vikings only missed advancing to the state tournament by three points.
Elk River was the top qualifier with only 50 points, but Forest Lake made it to the state tournament as a team with 77 points, only three better than North Branch's 80.
In the guys half of the race, there were some positives, namely Colin Charpentier's ninth place finish that propelled him to the state tourney as an individual, but not much else going on.
Besides Charpentier, the best finisher for North Branch was Zach Peno's 18:38, which was 58th place.
The Vikings ended up finishing in 12th place out of 13 section teams.
"A big congratulations to Colin, Megan and Kendra for qualifying for the state meet," Head Coach Anna Pouliot said after sections.
But, Pouliot knows it wasn't just the athletes that performed to get to the tourney. "A special thanks to our alternates, all four were on the line, ready to jump in if needed. That support is huge for the team and very reassuring as coaches.
Pouliot also wanted to thank the athletes who stuck around and ran with, cheered on and hung out with the top nine runners at section, as well as the managers for baking cookies for the athletes, and to all the parents who came to watch, brought treats, hosted carbohydrate loads, cooked food, drove kids to practice and picked kids up. "It doesn't get overlooked!" Pouliot said.
Charpentier, Norman and Zimmerman will compete in the state cross country tournament this Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Charpentier will begin running at 1 p.m. and Norman and Zimmerman will begin running at 2 p.m.