NORTHFIELD — After finishing second at last season’s MSHSL state cross-country championships by just two tenths of a second, La Crescent High School runner Matt Steiger had only one thing on his mind for his senior season.
Go out and win it.
On Saturday, he made that dream a reality by the slimmest of margins, defeating Declan Dahlberg of Mounds Park Academy by eight hundredths of a second to claim the Minnesota Class A individual title at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
Dahlberg, who defeated Steiger last year, was ahead of Steiger coming down the stretch, but Steiger refused to settle second place again.
“Just one thing — sprint as hard as you can, don’t leave anything left,” Steiger said when asked what he was thinking down the stretch. “I’m still tired from it.”
“We always do speed work in practice to sprint across (the line). For me, I had to build back up a lot of cardio, so I didn’t get as much of the speed in. It was a good finish. It’s happened before where it could go either way. I started sprinting at the top of the hill. You’ve got to make sure you’re at the front at the top of the hill and then go from there.”
Just before the finish line, Steiger had a pretty good idea that he had beaten Dahlberg this time around.
“Ten meters from the end, I thought,” Steiger said of his win. “But nothing is guaranteed until you cross.”
Steiger and Dahlberg finished with the same time of 15:44.8, but Steiger was officially ahead by .08 of a second.
“It’s my biggest dream and everything I ever wanted,” Steiger said of the win. “I’ve always been so close and to get it this, to get it done, it’s awesome.”