Talent on the big stage: Trio of Packer runners heading to state meet Saturday

Published 7:06 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Austin cross country team is sending a mixed bag of athletes to the Minnesota Cross Country Class AA State Meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield Saturday.

Senior Abby Lewis is putting the finishing touches on a decorated high school career as she will be running in her fifth straight state meet, senior Henry Hinchcliffe is looking to make his second trip to the state meet as enjoyable as he can and junior Meti Omod will be running in his first state meet after making the switch from soccer to cross country late in the fall of 2017.

“It’s really nice to have a big group of us (going to state),” Hinchcliffe said. “It’s kind of fitting that we’re sending so many because our team has been so big this year. It’s been really nice to have a lot of runners to train with.”

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Omod missed out on two trips to state with the Packer boys soccer team over the past two seasons, but now he’ll be competing in a state meet of his own. He decided to run with the Packer cross country team last year when his friend Trey Myers recruited him.

From left: Austin state qualifiers Meti Omod, Abby Lewis and Henry Hinchcliffe run through the Hormel Nature Center in practice Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Omod nearly made it to state as a sophomore and he took third place in last week’s Section 1AA meet.

“I’ve put in a lot of practice and worked hard,” Omod said. “It’s exciting.”

Hinchcliffe, who took 65th in last year’s state tournament, has ran along with Omod this year and he’s seen Omod make some big strides.

“I think Meti has come really far,” Hinchcliffe said. “He’s been really excellent for us this year and he put in a lot of work over the summer and during the course of the season. It’s really showed, especially at the section meet.”

Lewis took 82nd place in last year’s state meet and she was the final individual state qualifier in this year’s Section 1A meet. She had to give it her all to get to state and now Lewis is ready to enjoy her final run with the Packer cross country team.

“The last mile (at sections) I was a little out of it and I didn’t know what was going on. I was dizzy, but I was just so glad I was able to get the last spot and make it,” Lewis said. “It’s fun to go to state and it’s great to bring teammates with. It should be a lot of fun for my last year. [Henry and I] will give it our all because it will be our last race.”

Hinchcliffe is also embracing his last state cross country run with Austin.

“We’re going to kind of run for fun,” Hinchcliffe said. “It’s been a super fun year with all of my teammates and I’m really going to miss them all next year.”

The Minnesota Class AA boys will run at 10 a.m. on Saturday and the girls will run at 11 a.m. Saturday.