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Cross-Country: Decision pays off for Lake City's Dammann

Lake City senior Carston Dammann (left) runs alongside a Winona Cotter runner at the Hiawatha Valley League Conference Championships Oct. 16 in Rochester. R-E/file photo

Carston Dammann's mother offered him $100 to go out for the Lake City cross-country team in seventh and eighth grades.

Now the Lake City senior's talent hides the fact he's only run for the Tigers since junior year.

"I'm kind of glad I ended up thinking I was too small for football and I became a runner. That ended up nicely," Dammann said. "I never expected this. Back in 7th and 8th grade (my mom) always offered me 100 dollars because she didn't want me to get hurt. It never persuaded me, but once I finally went out, I collected on it."

Dammann will compete in his second consecutive Class 1A state cross-country meet Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Dammann finished in sixth at the Section 1A meet in 17 minutes, 14 seconds, even after getting knocked over by another runner during the final mile.

"He's continually going under 17 (minutes). His goal is to be All-State. Anything better would be frosting on the cake," Lake City head coach Howard Cook said. "It'll be in the range he's been running all year. He knows what it takes to get where he wants to be and he wants that All-State. ... If he goes to the wall and is 26th, it happens. But that's what he's wanted to do since Day 1, and that's a very achievable goal."

Cook noticed Dammann as a sixth-grader in physical education class and asked him to go out for the cross-country team. It took a bit longer, but once Dammann joined the team, he found immediate success and he took the reins of the team this year.

"I saw his potential," Cook said. "He does everything right in training. He listens to me. ... He's definitely the leader, there's no question about that."

And in his second year at the state tournament, Dammann will aim to improve on some of the issues that plagued his state race last year. He went out too fast and faded in the final mile to finish 32nd with a time of 17:02.5.

"It's a lot easier knowing what to expect now. I know the course and I know how to run it," Dammann said. "Last year, I got a little overexcited. I did too many warm-ups and burned myself out a little bit. I've got to relax more and not get too hyped up about it.

"My ultimate goal would be top 20 or top 15," he added. "It's not really time at that point. It's more placing for me. Based on time rankings, I was ranked 25th. I hope to be above that mark."

Dammann's also planning on running in college, adding another positive to come from his decision to become a cross-country runner.

"I'm hoping to go Division III," Dammann said. "Mainly St. Olaf, Gustavus and Luther. All three of them are pretty good running schools. I like the academics also."

It appears mom's $100 was well spent.

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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