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Willmar boys return to state

Willmar Cardinal runners, from left, Matt Weitzel, Mowlid Mohamed and C.J. Seifert are actually well behind the leaders here early in the race but they would surge the last 800 meters to each finish in the top 20 on their home course at Eagle Creek Golf Club Thursday. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- There's nothing flashy about the Willmar boys cross country squad.

But they do have a formula for winning. It goes something like this: hang back, stay together and finish hard.

It worked again on a damp Thursday afternoon at the Section 2AA meet at Eagle Creek Golf Club. Just as they did in the Central Lakes Conference meet a week earlier in the same location, the pack-running Cardinals claimed the championship trophy.

Willmar co-head coach Jerry Popp told senior leaders Matt Weitzel and Danny Voss afterwards: "We could have maybe run a little better, but we couldn't have run any harder."

It's the sixth straight state trip for the Willmar boys and the third section title in that stretch. The boys were section runners-up in 2004 and the previous two years.

The seventh-place Cardinal girls ran a "good race", said co-coach Disa Daucsavage. Shakopee, led by No. 1-rated Maria Hauger in first, was an easy winner with Chanhassen, a new school without a senior class, took second to also advance to Northfield on Nov. 7.

The top five boys for Willmar finished 13th through 22nd place. C.J. Seifert, a senior who started his running career competing in the 800-meters last spring, led the team. His time of 17:34 was 27 seconds slower than a week earlier when he was third in the CLC meet, reflecting the soaked turf.

While it was a mild 50 degrees with no wind, the 5,000-meter trail on the back nine fairways were muddy in spots. Several runners fell coming down the steep grade on the 17 fairway.

"After a while, you were sinking every step," said Seifert.

Weitzel was 16th, Voss 18th, Mowlid Mohamed 20th and freshman Abdullahi Mohamed 22nd.

Through 2,000 meters, Willmar didn't have a runner in the top 25.

"We spent the whole race passing people," said Voss. "We ran a smart race; when C.J. went; we all went."

"I was nervous the whole time," said Weitzel. "Popp told us to 'move up.' "

Eighth grader Tara Rudie, who was ill at mid-season, returned to form and led the Cardinal girls. She was 24th in the 4,000 meter race. Senior Jayne Cole in 31st, eighth-grader Paige Kester 34th, senior Erin Sheehan 35th and eighth-grader Kaitlyn Lawler 38th completed the Cardinal top five.


Team scoring

(1) Willmar 89* (2) Mankato East 95* (3) Orono 100 (4) Buffalo 131 (5) Mankato West 153 (6) Chanhassen 167 (7) Chaska 178 (8) Mound Westonka 189 (9) Shakopee 216 (10) Delano 232 (11) Marshall 234 (12) Hutchinson 267 (13) New Prague 353 (14) Waconia 400


STATE QUALIFIERS -- (1) Trent Lusigna, Sha, 17:00 (2) Nick Lindstrom, Sha, 17:04 (3) Alex Schultz, Oro, 17:12.1 (4) Kyle Economy, Chas, 17:12.2 (5) Grant VanKeulen, Mar, 17:12.9 (6) Alec Olson, Chan, 17:17 (7) Matt Dietrich, Buf, 17:20 (8) Ryan Erdman, ME, 17:21 (9) Adome Ochan, ME, 17:22 (10) Eric Schmidt, Hut, 17:29

WILLMAR -- (13) C.J. Seifert 17:34. (16) Matt Weitzel 17:42 (18) Danny Voss 17:49 (20) Mowlid Mohamed 17:51 (22) Abdullahi Mohamed 17:57 (38) Alex Johannes 18:35 (45) Anders Byberg 18:44


Team scoring

(1) Shakopee 80* (2) Chanhassen, 105* (3) Buffalo 110 (4) New Prague 121 (5) Mankato West 129 (6) Chaska 154 (7) Willmar 162 (8) Huthcinson 164 (9) Waconia 207 (10) Marshall 238 (11) Mankato East 252 (12) Mound Westonka 266 (13) Delano 386 (14) Orono 414


STATE QUALIFIERS -- (1) Maria Hauger, Sha, 15:14 (2) Laura Hughes, MW, 15:47 (3) Alissa Retterath, Hut, 15:47 (4) Julia Harrison, Mound, 15:55 (6) Molly Wick, NP, 16:02.1 (7) Winona Rachel, Sha, 16:02.3 (8) Alexis Willems, Waconia, 16:02,7 ()9) Megan Ackerman, Buf, 16:02 (10) Kaila Urick, Chas, 16:04

WILLMAR -- (24) Tara Rudie 16:40 (31) Jayne Cole 16:45 (34) Paige Kester 16:49 (35) Erin Sheehan 16:53 (38) Kaitlyn Lawler 17:10 (52) Cassandra Johnson 17:36 (61) Jackie Johnson 17:52

*Qualify for state meet

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. 
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