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Cross Country: Willmar off its stride in state crowd

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Cross Country: Willmar off its stride in state crowd
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

NORTHFIELD -- Conditions were near perfect at the St. Olaf College athletic fields on Saturday for a cross country meet but for Willmar, the Cardinals performance was less so.

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The team finished 15th of 16 seven-member units running the Class AA boys 5k.

"Average, at best," assessed Willmar head coach Jerry Popp. He'd hoped for a top 12.

"We may have had our state race last week (at section)," he chuckled.

The Cardinals ran a flawless race at the Section 8AA meet to place second and earn the school's seventh state trip in eight years to Northfield.

This meet the septet seemed more excitable than focused. The disciplined pack running fell apart in the swirl of 157 harriers at a heart-pounding pace. Eighth-grader Nadir Yusuf, who had practiced little all week with a hip flexor, broke with the lead pack instead of keying off team leader Mowlid Mohamed, one of two seniors for Willmar.

"We went out too slow," said Alex Johannes, the other senior, of the remaining Cardinal cluster. "There was a lot of catching up to do. I don't think Mo and I were too nervous."

Sophomore Thomas Seifert hooked up with Mohamed on the ultra-steep "stair climb" to the finish chute and outsprinted him to the finish in 16:56.4, which was 81st place overall.

Most Class AA teams are senior/junior loaded, but Willmar ran three sophomores and eighth-grader Yusuf.

Sophomore Austin Miley ran his best race turning a career-best 17:57.

Popp, who's been coaching cross country teams in North Dakota and now Minnesota since the mid-1970s, pointed out that while some results are less than hoped its hard to beat the state tournament atmosphere which only a small portion of athletes get to experience.

Crowds were enormous once again adding to the excitement.

Nationally-ranked Monticello won the girls team prize. Maria Hauger of Shakopee won her third individual title, holding off a stride-for-stride challenge by Central Lakes Conference champion Jamie Piepenburg of Alexandria in the day's best race. In the boys team race, the Stillwater Ponies got to the top step of the podium for the first time since winning the last of three consecutive state championships in 1997. They were second to state champion Willmar in 2005.

Class A

Ben Burgett's finished in the top 40 running for the first-year program at Community Christian School of Willmar. A two-time winner in area citizen races this year and a high finisher in almost every high school event he ran, this setting was different.

"It's humbling," he said, smiling. He'd run the 5k on the St. Olaf campus with its tough climbs at the end in 17:09, good for 38th place. He was the sixth freshman to finish.

"It's exciting down here and with all the people its fun all the way," said Burgett.

He ran a 5:03 first mile a second faster than eventual champion Bryon Shuldt, a senior from Nevis.

Sophomore Aaron Goulet of Morris/Chokio-Alberta finished in the middle of the bobbing herd in 72nd place.

Two area athletes in the girls 4k division also had strong races. Freshman Alaysia Freetly of Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd placed 41st and sophomore Makenzie Smith of Morris/Chokio-Alberta was just four places back in 45th place.

In a rare double, St. Cloud Cathedral won both team titles.

CLASS AA BOYS

Team scoring

(1) Stillwater 92 (2) Burnsville 115 (3) Edina 129 (4) Rosemount 132 (5) Eden Prairie 137 (6) Andover 149 (7) Moorhead 165 (8) Rochester Mayo 197 (9) Owatonna 226 (10) Centennial 262 (11) Chanhassen 271 (12) White Bear Lake 274 (13) Marshall 277 (14) Mounds View 303 (15) Willmar 339 (16) Forest Lake 452

Individual

TOP 10 -- (1) Josh Thorson, Wayzata, 15:29.9 (2) Riley Macon, Rochester Mayo, 15:39.5 (3) Troy Koivisto, Dassel-Cokato, 15:40.1 (4) Glen Ellingson, Moorhead, 15:44.4 (5) Cole O'Brien, Burnsville, 15:46.3 (6) Kevin Docherty, Cretin-Derham Hall, 15:48.3 (7) Wayde Hall, Stillwater, 15:53.0 (8) Joey Duerr, Chaska, 15:57.7 (9) John Klecker, Hopkins, 16:00.7 (10) Eric Colvin, Stillwater, 16:01.0

WILLMAR (qualifying teams place-overall place) -- (49-88) Thomas Seifert 16:56.4 (51-90) Mowlid Mohamed 16:57.4 (74-121) Alex Johannes 17:25.4 (81-128) Sam Anez 17:34.9 (84-131) Nadir Yusuf 17:38.1 (92-139) Ryan Sawyer 17:50.9 (96-143) Austin Miley 17:57.1

CLASS AA GIRLS

Team scoring

(1) Monticello 93 (2) Lakeville South 118 (3) Wayzata 140 (4) Shakopee 168 (5) Roseville 184 (6) East Ridge 187 (7) Alexandria 194 (8) Edina 206 (9) Eagan 212 (10) Forest Lake 251 (11) Chanhassen 262 (12) Andover 270 (13) Prior Lake 286 (14) Lakeville North 295 (15) St Michael-Albertville 308 (16) Totino-Grace 362

Individual

TOP 10 -- (1) Maria Hauger, Shakopee, 14:04.1 (2) Jamie Piepenburg, Alexandria, 14:04.8 (3) Jenna Truedson, Bemidji, 14:23.9 (4) Megan Hasz, Alexandria, 14:29.6 (5) Bethany Hasz, Alexandria, 14:32.0 (6) Kaytlyn Larson, Lakeville South, 14:36.7 (7) Nicole Heitzman, Andover, 14:37.5 (8) Danielle Anderson, Eagan, 14:39.3 (9) Erica Seidenkranz, Monticello, 14:40.3 (10) Anna French, Wayzata, 14:40.3

CLASS A BOYS

Team scoring

(1) St. Cloud Cathedral 72 (2) Perham 73 (3) Minnehaha Academy 132 (4) Blake 137 (5) Crosby-Ironton 168 (6) Waseca 194 (7) Albany 237 (8) Redwood Valley 238 (9) Mesabi East 252 (10) Ottertail Central 260 (11) Mora 262 (12) Plainview-Elgin-Millville 263 (13) Martin County West 277 (14) Luverne 282 (15) Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 297 (16) Winona Cotter 304

Individual

TOP TEN -- (1) Bryon Schuldt, Nevis, 15:55.3 (2) Brandon Clark, Blake, 15:59.4 (3) Charlie Lawrence, Foley, 16:09.4 (4) Nick Stoks, Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI, 16:13.8 (5) Shane Streich, Waseca, 16:15.6 (6) Daniel Borash, Royalton, 16:17.2 (7) Jacob Gerhartz, Sauk Centre, 16:19.2 (8) Nick Golebiowski, St. Cloud Cathedral, 16:27.6 (9) Jackson Lindquist, Esko, 16:32.3 (10) Romeo Benish, Proctor, 16:32.9

AREA INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS -- (38) Ben Burgett, Community Christian of Willmar; 17:09.2 (72) Aaron Goulet, Morris/Chokio-Alberta, 17:32.8

CLASS A GIRLS

Team scoring

(1) St. Cloud Cathedral 94 (2) Annandale 118 (3) Esko 132 (4) Blake 138 (5) Waseca 154 (6) United South Central 203 (7) Adrian 211 (8) Holdingford 218 (9) La Crescent 222 (10) Perham 227 (11) Trinity of River Ridge 247 (12) Park Rapids 247 (13) Albany 268 (14) Luverne 297 (15) Rochester Lourdes 325 (16) International Falls 358

Individual

TOP TEN -- (1) Clare Flanagan, Blake, 14:21.7 (2) Emi Trost, Cannon Falls, 14:34.7 (3) Marisa Shady, Esko, 14:45.5 (4) McKenzie Holt, St. Cloud Christian, 14:48.6 (5) Kayla Woltz, Chatfield, 14:57.4 (6) Lydia Lutz, Park Rapids, 15:02.0 (7) Courtney Alama, Annandale, 15:02.6 (8) Tierney Winter, Silver Bay, 15:09.1 (9) Meghan Henriksen, Mankato Loyola, 15:10.3 (10) Lauren Friese, Fairmont 15:12.1

AREA INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS -- (41) Alaysia Freetly, Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd, 15:45.7 (45) Makenzie Smith, Morris/Chokio-Alberta, 15:48.18

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Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
(320) 214-4334
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