Blazing the trail

Cross country runners improving

In high school cross country, the competition sometimes is not so much against other runners as it is against yourself.

That’s how Burnsville girls coach Charlie Burnham looks at this season. Although the Blaze is not winning every race, the runners are beating their old times.

“The biggest highlight this year has just been watching the team improve from the top down,” Burnham said. “This is probably the best varsity squad I’ve coached in my four years here, but it is hands down the best (junior varsity) team I’ve ever had.”

The best performance for the Blaze girls was their home meet Sept. 20, where they finished second behind Minnetonka.

“We finally started to see exactly what we are capable of doing if everyone runs their best on the same day,” Burnham said.

Burnsville’s Vivian Hett won the race. She has been on quite a run so far this season as one of the top runners in the state.

“She’s had someone to push her in just about every race we’ve run this year, and she’s a quick learner so I know she’s looking forward to the conference and section meets,” Burnham said.

With the South Suburban Conference meet coming Oct. 12, Burnham said his team’s goal is modest – to finish in the top half.

“We’re looking to start there and anything else will be a bonus we carry into the section meet,” Burnham said.

Burnsville’s Ali Ahmed. Photo by Nick Clark

Boys cross country

The Burnsville boys have had some exciting moments this season as well, winning the Prior Lake meet Sept. 27. Faysal Mahmoud was the individual medalist in 16 minutes, 4 seconds.

“They came together and everyone, save a few, had personal records at that meet,” coach Jeff Webber said.

Ali Ahmed and Shawn Wong have had their moments as well. Ahmed ran 16:33.90 at the Rum River Invitational in Anoka on Sept. 13 and Wong got close to breaking the 16-minute mark.

Webber also noted the improvement of Tyler Shonewill, who broke into the varsity lineup this season.

The South Suburban Conference meet is Oct. 12. In addition to running for a conference title, the Blaze will have a chance to see how it compares to some of the teams in Section 3AA.

Last season the Blaze were runners-up in the section, beating Eastview by two points and advancing to state. This year’s section meet is Oct. 25 at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley.

Rosemount is the favorite coming into the conference and section meets.

“The goal is to win it and compete against Rosemount, who we know is good,” Webber said.