Logan Cross Country

Logan's Chris Ganrude (283) competes in the MVC cross country championships on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at the Hiawatha Golf Club in Tomah. (Rory O'Driscoll/La Crosse Tribune)

Please, for the sake of the Logan High School boys cross country team, knock on a piece of wood when you read beyond this paragraph.

Words that describe how the team was held back from reaching its potential a year ago will be used.

But keep in mind that the Rangers did place sixth among Division 1 teams at the WIAA state cross country meet last October.

Maybe the fact that they did that while spending the season battling injury and illness really puts the accomplishment into perspective.

Oh, those are the two words that require that simultaneous knock on wood: injury and illness.

Those things haven’t impacted the fifth-ranked Rangers this fall, and that’s why they are especially excited about Saturday’s run in their sixth straight state appearance at Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

They ran one meet as a completely healthy team in 2012, and they haven’t had their lineup changed once because of either of those words in 2013.

“It makes a big difference to be able to focus on running and not thinking about ’Oh, I’m sick’ or ‘My foot hurts’ and have to deal with that,” senior Soren Johnson said. “Not having to worry about all the things that could go wrong. Luckily, nothing has gone wrong for us. Knock on wood.”

Instead of worrying about its own health and how to overcome it, Logan can worry about running with teams like Stevens Point, Madison West, Madison La Follette and Kimberly as it chases a state title.

“Four of this season’s top-five runners had been injured last year,” junior Erik Deetz said. “The one that didn’t get injured was (junior) Andrew (Olson), and he didn’t even run. He wasn’t on the team.”

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Last season’s bad luck started when Chris Ganrude got a stress fracture in July 2012. Johnson got a stress fracture a week later. Henry Meger was injured a month later. When Ganrude returned a week before the MVC Meet, Deetz had a lung collapse.

Ganrude then came down with mononucleosis days before the state meet, where the Rangers placed sixth.

“We went into state at 75 percent,” Johnson said.

The difference this season was Logan’s training and being able to run day in and day out.

“Obviously running will get you better at running,” Johnson said. “Last year, we were doing pool workouts instead or on the bike or elliptical. It’ll keep your cardio up, but you don’t get the running muscles. Just being able to run had made a difference for all of us.”

The only scare this season was a tight quadriceps for Olson, but that was taken care of through additional stretching.

That has allowed the Rangers to focus on results. Ganrude won the MVC meet (16:21) and placed seventh (16:25) at the Menomonie sectional meet as the Rangers — who had six runners in the top 26 — placed second to Eau Claire Memorial.

“I don’t think injuries have even been an issue. Our focus has been getting to the state meet,” Logan coach Pat Mulrooney said. “It’s just too bad that last season we had some bad fortune. We know we are primed and ready.

“We’ve been healthy all season, knock on wood, and we are going to stay that way through state.”

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