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Cross-Country: Z-M/K-W's Jacobson running beyond her years

Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo's Skyler Jacobson competes at the Hiawatha Valley League Conference Championships Oct. 16 in Rochester. Jacobson placed fifth overall. Photo by Chris Harrell

Skyler Jacobson is yet to enter high school, but that doesn't keep her from running past upperclassmen.

Only in seventh grade, Jacobson has qualified for her first Class 1A state girls cross-country meet with a ninth-place finish at the Section 1A meet last Thursday in Rochester. Jacobson ran the race in 16 minutes, 10.6 seconds.

"She is an extremely hard worker with a strong will to be successful," Zumbrota-Mazeppa /Kenyon-Wanamingo head coach Brad Smith said. "She has been very classy in handling the success this year."

And Jacobson has had plenty of success. At the Hiawatha Valley League Conference Championships at Willow Creek Golf Course in Rochester, Jacobson almost broke 16 minutes, finishing fifth in 16:01.3. She ran a 6:27 mile pace.

Smith said he was unsure of what to expect for the section meet but hoped Jacobson could qualify for state. The coaching staff thought the opportunity was there, but it is never easy to predict a trip to state and they didn't want to put added pressure on a young runner.

"We just wanted her to run the best race that she could and we would see where things went from there," Smith said. "My assistant and I wondered about her possibly having an outside chance, but didn't say much as we didn't want to build up any tension."

Despite being younger than nearly all of her competitors, Jacobson belongs at the varsity level. She isn't intimidated and she doesn't take races for granted.

"She takes things one race at a time," Smith said. "I am extremely impressed by her maturity."

The final test for Jacobson will take place during the state meet Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Many first-time participants deal with anxiousness and the tendency to start too fast. Smith said the state tournament is a positive experience and he will try to keep Jacobson's focus away from the anticipation surrounding the meet.

"Just treat the run as any other race," he said. "Don't get too caught up in the hype and do what you have done all season long to reach this point."

Smith and Jacobson will head to Northfield Friday to practice and get acquainted with the course.

Saturday's race could help prepare Jacobson for a long and successful career with Z-M/K-W. Especially once she gets to high school.

"We are in hopes that she will p.r. (personal record) and have her strongest performance of the season," Smith said of the state meet. "Most of all, I want her to walk away and be happy with her performance."

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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