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Willmar senior Cassandra Johnson, left, and eighth-grade teammate Kayla Rudie approach the finish line at St. Olaf College cheered by hundreds.

Willmar girls 10th at Minnesota state meet

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NORTHFIELD -- The Willmar Cardinals girls placed 10th of 16 teams at the Class AA state cross-country meet on Saturday afternoon at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

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That's pretty good for a team with one senior, one sophomore and six runners yet in middle school.

Samantha Hanson, the sophomore, led the Cardinal flock with a time of 14:53, her first race under 15:00 and good for 31st overall among 174 finisher of the 4000 meter run. Next on the team was her sister Jessa, followed by Grace Graves, Sophia Schmitz and senior Cassandra Johnson in 15:41. Kayla Rudie and Savannah Anez also came in under 16 minutes

Johnson completed her sixth year in the program with 5 varsity letters and her first state trip.

"They keep me young," said Johnson at races end of the eighth-grade brood. "They're always fun. You don't have to get after them. You set the stage [workout], and they do it."

Maria Hauger broke the state record with a time of 13:42. It was her fourth straight win at state for the Shakopee senior, who won the Cardinal Invite as a freshman.

The Stillwater boys and the Wayzata girls won team titles.

Willmar junior Tom Siefert dropped 16 seconds from his time a year ago on this course to a personal-best 16:40 but moved up only 7 spots in the standings - 81st of 176 runners. The field expanded by 20 runners this year with the new format (8 individuals qualify from each section plus the 14 runners from the two qualifying teams).

Times were low in all four races on a dry course with no wind and a cool day where the mercury never reached 45.

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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