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Boys Cross Country

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Countdown To First Practice


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Mike Sonnabend

Head Coach

Kim Griffin

Athletic Office Manager

Phone: 507-328-5330

Dan Feda

Assistant Coach

Brian Ihrke

Activities Director

Phone: 507-328-5330

Fred Farrand

Volunteer Coach

Ashley Harding

Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Athletic Trainer



2022 Practice Times
Monday - Friday: 3:45 to 5:45
Saturday: 8:00 - 10:00
►Practices can vary in length depending on the type of workout and where the workout takes place. Our goal is to complete each practice by 5:15.

2022 Cross Country Meet Schedule Link (Meets will be added as they are approved)
Click link above for up-to-date meet information from
Meets are confirmed when a contract is signed by the Activities Director. Meet information including times for each race, course maps, bus times, concessions, t-shirt sales, and more will be posted on our team site when received from host school.

2022 CC Calendar View NEW
This is a calendar view with all meet dates, team activities, and other items. This information is also posted in a five day calendar view at the top of this site. To see a monthly view of this calendar, simple click VIEW ALL link in the lower right corner.


After a slight delay, the uniform and spirit wear store is now open. In order to compete in scheduled meets, you must purchase an official uniform. The uniform is reasonably priced and can be used for multiple season. It can also be used if competing in track and field. Spirit wear is also available, but is not required. If you have any questions, please contact Coach Sonnabend.

Orders are due by midnight on Sunday, August 21



Stay up to date on team news by subscribing to our text message service provided by Remind. Get instant messages concerning upcoming meets, bus times, return times, practice information, schedule changes, and more. Click the image to the left to get started. 


Get ready for the 2022 Cross Country season by joining our captains each morning for a group run. This is an easy and fun way to prepare yourself for the start of the season. Both experienced runners and those new to the sport are encouraged to attend. If you have any questions, please contact Coach Sonnabend through the email link at the top of the page. GO ROCKETS

WHEN: Beginning Monday, June 20
DAYS: Monday - Friday

WHERE: JM (on the stairs in front of the gym)

If you cannot make it to these practices and would like information on what you can do to get ready for the season, contact Coach Sonnabend.


In an effort to help create training programs that fit the running experience of each athlete, we are asking everyone to record their summer workouts in the provided Google Form. Please be honest. Runs can take place during Captain's practices or on your own. 

Google Form Link

Google Sheets with Form Responses Link


Hello JM Cross Country Family,

The start of the 2022 season is fast approaching and with it comes a host of questions about what to expect for the upcoming season. To help both the newcomer and experienced athlete navigate a constantly changing landscape, here are some questions and answers to help everyone have a great experience as a Rocket.

Before beginning the Q&A, here is some information about our coaching staff: My name is Mike Sonnabend and I am the head coach for the boys track and field program at John Marshall. I have been with the program since 2013 and have served as head coach since 2017. In the spring I serve as head coach for the boy’s track and field team. My roots with JM run deep. I graduated from JM and competed in track and football. I am married, and have three Rocket boys. Sam graduated in 2017 and was a member of the track, cross country, and swim team. Nick graduated in 2021and pole vaulted for JM. Andrew is currently a senior, and like Sam competes in track, cross country, and swimming. When not coaching I teach at PrairieCare for Rochester Public Schools.

A major part of our cross-country program is assistant coach Dan Feda. Coach Feda has been with our program since 2017 and was instrumental in helping Garrett Eick compete in the State Meet last season. Coach Feda has yet to be beaten in our team time trial at the start of each season. We also have happy to announce we will be joined by volunteer assistant coach Fred Farrand. Coach Farrand recently graduated from Luther College where he ran four years for the Norse. He will be a first-year teacher at Dakota Middle School. Welcome Coach Farrand.

Now on the Q&A:

Q: This is my first year going out for the cross-country team. Do I have to try out and possibly get cut from the team?

A: Welcome to the JM Rockets Cross Country Team. We do not have tryouts and do not cut people from the team. Most of the meets during the season are divided into three races, varsity, junior varsity, and middle school. The varsity and junior varsity races are a 5K. The middle school race is shorter. If a 5K is to challenging at the start of the season, we can enter the runner in the middle school race.

Q: When does practice start and what should I bring?

A: The first day of practice is Monday, August 15. The time for our first two weeks of practice has not been determined because we try to accommodate Band Camp. As soon as we determine a time we will post it on our team site.

We will meet in the grassy area near the football practice fields and the main parking lot. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring a water bottle. If we are allowed in the building we may be able to use the varsity locker room, so be sure to bring a lock. Because most of our runs are based on time a cheap watch with a stop watch feature is helpful.

Q: How long is a practice?

A: The length of a practice depends on the workout taking place. Workouts vary, with long runs and workouts off-site taking the most time. In general, we try to complete the workouts within two hours. If you need to leave by a specific time, let Coach Sonnabend know before practice.

Q: Do we practice on Saturday?

A: Yes. Saturday is our day to go for a long slow run. Most of the time this takes place at Kalmar Reservoir, west of Cinemagic Theaters. Saturday runs do count towards the attendance guidelines.

Q: I will be coming to practice from John Adams or Dakota Middle School, how do I get to practice?

A: The school district will provide an activities bus at John Adams and Dakota Middle School. Contact the main office for specifics the bus number and time. The bus will only be for students at John Adams and Dakota.

Q: When do we have meets and do I need to get excused from school?

A: The season schedule will be posted on the team websites and can also be found at when accepted by the activity’s office. Although these schedules are considered official, changes may occur. Weekday meets usually involve getting excused from school. Bus times will be posted once a meet is finalized by the activity’s office. To get excused from middle school, simply submit a note to the attendance office to ensure you are not counted absent. A list of team members attending the meet will also be sent to the attendance office at JM by the head coach. The bus will first stop at JA and Dakota, then JM.

Q: How long is a meet and what should I bring?

A: The length of a meet depends on how many schools are running.  Bigger invites, the Conference and Section meets can take a while. For this reason (no matter the type of meet) bring clothes for changing weather. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to drop during a meet and become uncomfortable if not prepared. Also, bring food to snack on or eat when done competing. Some schools may open concessions. As always, bring a filled water bottle. Some kids do bring homework for the bus ride and down time.

Q: What about my uniform and spirit wear?

A: All team members buy their uniform and keep it. This uniform is good season to season and can be worn for track. A link to the team store will be posted once the store is set-up by Superior Screeners. Spirit wear such as sweatshirts, pants, t-shirt, and jacket are optional. Order are due by the end of the first week of practice.

Q: What about shoes? What kind of shoes do I need for practice and meets?

A: For practice, simply wear a comfortable pair of shoes for running. These do not have to be expensive, but should be in good repair. If shoes show wear they may cause injury over time. It is also nice to have an extra pair in case shoes get wet and do not dry overnight. Spikes are optional but helpful. Some runners wait to purchase spikes until they decide to commit to cross country. When shopping, look for cross country or distance spikes. At our level the type of spikes is not critical. Go with something you like and looks cool.

Q: What happens if I cannot be at practice and who do I contact?

A: We expect everyone to be at every practice. That being said, we are aware that sometimes things come up that interfere with attendance. For this reason, we keep our attendance policy simple. First, all absences except illness and a family emergency are considered unexcused. We allow six absences for any reason as long as it is communicated in writing by a parent or teacher. The easiest way to do this is to send a message to the head coach through the team website. Absences without documentation result in missing the next meet. After reaching six absences the athlete is disqualified from competing in upcoming meets.

Q: How do I know if a practice or meet is canceled?

A: The fastest way to get information on the boy’s program is to sign-up for our text service. This gives you access to information as it happens. The team website will also be updated as soon as possible.

Q: How do I letter in cross country?

A: Lettering standards for the boys are performance based and posted on the team website under the standards tab. They are meant to be challenging and a source of accomplishment when reached. It is our hope that wearing a letter jacket is a source of pride and lets others know it was earned.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the program?

A: Have fun and be patient. It’s important to take things slowly and to make sure you have a good experience. For the first year, just figure everything out. Experience the different runs during practice, how to dress for practices and meets, what a meet looks like, where do we have meets, what is it like to actually compete in a meet, how do you balance school and track, what happens if it rains, and more.

The second season you can start focusing on your performance. Maybe you begin to experiment with different strategies. It’s still early in your career, so continue to be patient. Don’t compare yourself to others because you still have a long way to go.

The third season you are golden. Now is ROCKET time. You have experience, have grown, and you have matured. Now you start to dial in on reaching your performance goals and look to make an impact. Things can still change, but you are more focused and determined. Everyone has their own definition of success. For some it is making a trip to State. For others it might be placing in the conference or section meet. Some runners want to make varsity, earn a letter, or reach a specific performance goal. We even have runners that want to get faster for another sport or get into shape. Whatever your definition of success is, go for it. Our coaching staff is here to help make that happen.

Q: What should I do if I have more questions? A: No question is a bad question, so direct all questions and concerns to Coach Sonnabend. The easiest way is to send an email through the link on the team website. Our coaches are also available after every practice if you would like to meet in person. Our coaches and captains are excited for the upcoming season. We have high expectations and look forward to following the progress of our returning and new runners.



Thank-you to everyone who volunteered to help with the Scheell's Happy Human Race. Your help was greatly appreciated by the meet director. Below is a response from the meet organizer.


6 September 2021

Dear John Marshall High School Cross Country Team,

The Rochester Running Club and the Scheels Healthy Human Race would like to express our tremendous appreciation for your dedication and commitment to helping with the Healthy Human Race on Saturday August 28th at your aid stations along 20th St. SE, near the relay exchange point. You helped us to execute what was probably one of the most relaxed race days.


The whole event was so successful from the packet pick-up to the last person to cross the finish line. Knowing the JM High School Cross Country Team were so capable and possessed the expertise to accomplish the tasks set before you was a huge relief and you were a big part of that successful execution.

You knew what needed to be done and we depended on you to “just do it”. Your presence made so much difference and we are indebted to you for your unselfish dedication to the Healthy Human Race.
You are a great partner and tremendously appreciated.


Simply to say thanks just does not seem adequate, but please know that “thanks” speaks volumes. You are truly invaluable!! I hope you will join us once again next year on August 27, for the 38th running of this event.

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give. Winston Churchill

Lin Gentling
Race Director Scheels Healthy Human Race


PS…..All the best for a highly successful season!!!


The JM Boys TF & CC teams are now on Facebook. Join us in another way to keep up to date, share photos, and get pictures of your favorite Rocket. Simply search for JM ROCKETS TF & CC. You may also use the QR Code below.



Link coming soon

Traditionally, pasta feeds serve as a great way to gather as a team and socialize the day before a meet. Each event is held at the home of a team member, but can also be held at the school. Each pasta feed has one host and one or more helpers. If you are interested in volunteering to host or help with a pasta feed, please click the image to pick a date.