The duo, as they have in most meets, anchored the Cardinals to a strong finish at their home meet, finishing in fourth [Christianson] and eighth [Freer] overall, helping L/E/M cross county to a third place team finish.

Monday's boy's varsity race at the Langdon Invitational felt like the perfect end to a perfect day for the Cardinals.

The silhouettes, cast by the setting sun through the trees, of the sapped runners moved from left to right as teammates, friends, and family members ran from marker to marker to cheer on those racing.

As the boys broke over the sand trap at Langdon County Club, which led them down into the finish line, Langdon/Edmore/Munich (L/E/M) saw two familiar faces out in front: sophomore Mason Christianson and eighth-grader Brock Freer.

The duo, as they have in most meets, anchored the Cardinals to a strong finish at their home meet, finishing in fourth [Christianson] and eighth [Freer] overall, helping L/E/M cross county to a third place team finish.

"We were really strong on the boys end today," Cardinals head coach Todd Hetler said. "Mason Christianson did great, one of his best time's all year, and Brock Freer put up a 19:11, which is outstanding for an eighth-grader."

Throughout the season, Christianson and Freer offer something different. Christianson, while still a sophomore, has been a consistent force at the top for L/E/M. In a heavily spaced out top four, seeing Hillsboro/Central Valley Chrisitan Brist win the race 22 seconds ahead of second place, Christianson would round out the top four with a time of 18:40.

While the world paused in March due to the pandemic, Christianson was still going, continuing to run despite the cancellation of the track season. Running five miles on his own since March, Hetler said that he has faith in Christianson that he will push himself and continuing to build, as he has for the last three seasons for L/E/M.

"I don't think he has a middle speed, so when we go out to run during practice, I just let him go," Hetler said. "He works really hard and he's worked very hard for this. Runners can be made and he made himself into a great runner from when he started here in seventh grade."

Freer has added an element that shines a bright light for the future for L/E/M. After winning a handful of middle school races as a seventh-grader, Hetler began running Freer on and off in varsity races last season and saw strong results. Now, not even in high school and a full-time varsity runner, Freer continues to show quick growth with the Cardinals and establish a spot at the top of any pack.

"He's been coming to my running clinics for the last two summers, but football was taking away in the fall," Hetler said. "However, I was finally able to get him out to cross country. It's one of the things where you see a kid's potential, but you don't know really know until they race. In his first race, you could see his potential."

Almost not having him on the team due to football, Freer's intensity and endurance have made him a stand out for the Cardinals early on in his career. His 19:11 finish was the second-best finish for L/E/M varsity boys and saw him finish nearly two minutes ahead of the third-place L/E/M runner.

"It's a combination of talent and hard work, and he has put in both," Hetler said. "His brother runs junior high, so he kind of caught the running bug from him. His brother would come to running club in the summers and he would tag along."

Hetler said consistent strong finishes from the duo of Christianson and Freer bring up the possibility of training the two together. Both hit higher career times on Monday less than a minute apart from each other.

In the girls varsity race, the Cardinals continue to move runners off of injury and back onto the course, taking eighth place as a team with a score of 200. L/E/M was led off by junior Alexa Schneider, who finished in 30th place with a time of 25:56.

"We have some illnesses on the girl's team," Hetler said. "We usually have four girls and today we only had three, but Alexa Schneider did great. She's a first-year runner and had a great finish."

Following Schenider were freshmen Jane and Kate Sillers, who took 41st and 42nd overall. While they may have a short roster, the Cardinals aren't too worried about staying competitive heading deeper into their schedule as they believe they have time to prepare and get their runners healthy.

"We still have time and that's the main thing," Hetler said. "We're at about three weeks until the championship races, so we still have time to get everyone healthy. We've had kids injured at this time in the past before, so we'll be fine."

After a strong performance in what could be their final meet of the season, the Cardinals are looking to work off that finish going forward, but also making sure that they are peaking at the right time.

"I think they all ran really well, so it's just a positive thing to work off of," Hetler said. "We're going to go into to tomorrow's practice and just work off that. We're looking to use this as a stepping stone towards peaking at the end. It's great to run well here, but it's a stepping stone towards where you want to be."

Contact Jack Williams with any comments at JGWilliams1@gannett.com or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.