FORT DODGE - Lee Christensen felt some satisfaction in breaking the 17-minute mark after pushing himself to 23rd place at the Lakeside Golf Course on Saturday.
But the Estherville Lincoln Central sophomore has higher goals the next two years as he will work to return to the Class 2A State Cross Country Meet.
"I started a little fast and felt good during the race," he said. "At the end a few people started to pass me."
Estherville Lincoln Central sophomore Lee Christensen (952) was able to stay in near the front of the pack in his first appearance at the Class 2A State Cross Country Meet on Saturday in Fort Dodge.
While he didn't like that, he didn't quite have enough left in the tank.
He finished the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 58.1 seconds.
Meanwhile teammate Nic Peters was able to pass a group of runners for his 28th-place finish.
"Nic beat four people at the finish," said ELC coach Tina Burton. "He was able to get by a group to put him in that position."
The coach felt both sophomores were ready to race.
"The went to the starting line a little nervous, but they had got to see a couple of the first races and go over the course," Burton said. "They had a textbook start at the front of the pack."
Christensen and Peters are the first male state qualifiers from ELC since Matt Juhl made the trip in 2007. Juhl placed 36th in Class 3A when there were still four classes for cross country
With the strong finish by the two sophomores on Saturday, the expectations are higher for next season.
"The expectation is to get them in the weight room," said Burton. "We've also talked about maintaining their fitness throughout the year."
Christensen echoed those goals.
"I'd like to go to state both years and maybe get first," he said. "I plan to do lots of field work, conditioning and pace work."
Christensen said he enjoyed his first year at the state meet.
"I also enjoy having three coaches who all work very hard and enjoy what they're doing," he said.
Burton said with two returning state qualifiers, she hopes they can get the rest of the young team-which only had one senior and no juniors-to put in the work and perhaps take the whole team to state in the next two years.