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Running with purpose: Marsh finds a deep drive in first place finish

Jackson Marsh had an emotional finish for the Austin boys cross country team, who beat Albert Lea 26-29 and the Austin girls cross country team got off on the right foot as it ran away with a 22-34 dual win against AL and the at the Mower County Fairgrounds Tuesday.

Marsh took first to lead Austin boys and he finished the race with a point to the sky in honor of his late grandpa Steve Haire, who lost his battle with cancer a couple of years ago. Marsh, a senior, had used his grandpa’s memory to drive him towards his finish of 16:55.8 — a time he had been aiming at for quite some time.

“When I really need him most I think about what a fighter he was,” Marsh said of Haire. “He got me through there and he was with me the whole time (today). He was such a good guy and I’ve tried to model my life after him. He was the most caring person I’ve ever met.”

Marsh said Tuesday’s finish meant a lot to him after he went through a tough junior season.

“It’s been a super long journey. I had a really tough last year in sports in general with injuries and the fight to get competitive,” Marsh said. “This was my best race I’ve had in a long time. I had those days and those moments where running sucked.”

In the girls race, Austin’s Marissa Shute, Cassidy Shute and Nadia Vaughn jumped out ahead of the pack early on and they kept the pace throughout the race as Marissa took first, Cassidy took second and Nadia finished third.

Marissa put together a big lead on the field as she crossed the finish line without a competitor in sight. While she had a lot of room to run, she wasn’t looking back or letting up.

“I’d say this year is really different, but you’ve got to make the most of it. You don’t know when everything is going to get shut down so you’ve got to run your hardest,” Marissa said. “This year is more of a mental game. You don’t really have anyone to chase down when you’re at the front of the pack. You can’t slow down and you have to keep going. I try and chase the golf cart.”

Marissa is Cassidy’s younger sister, but the two quickly went back to being supporters of each other after racing against each other for three miles.

“I’m always supportive of how Marissa does,” Cassidy said. “During the race I want to beat her, but after the race I’m very proud of her and how she does.”

Joseph Garry took fourth and Thomas Herrick took sixth for the Packer boys.

“It was a great run by our team,” Marsh said. “They were racing like it could’ve been their last race and that was awesome to see.”

BOYS RESULTS

Austin: Jackson Marsh (first, 16:55.8); Joseph Garry (fourth, 17:52.3); Thomas Herrick (sixth, 18:21.8); Kyle Mayer (seventh, 18:51.9); Thomas Asmus (eighth, 19:03); Alex Petrik (11th, 19:36.6)

AL: Gavin Hanke (second, 17:38.8); Logan Barr (third, 17:41.4); Aaron Bauers (fifth, 18:12.6); Patrick Holcomb (ninth, 19:31.7); Mason Buendorf (10th, 19:33.1)

GIRLS RESULTS

Austin: Marissa Shute (first, 21:05.7); Cassidy Shute (second, 22:25.5); Nadia Vaughn (third, 22:49.0); Grace Vortherms (fifth, 23:17.6); Lauren Schmit (11th, 25:16.5); Micha Weber (12th, 25:50.9)

AL: Jai Meyers (fourth, 23:17); Shelby Evans (sixth, 23:27.4); Karime Ponciano (seventh, 23:30.5); Mya Hanke (eighth, 23:58.9); Katelyn Uthke (10th, 25:16.3)