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Cross Country: Both Willmar teams finish in top four at 11-team meet

The red-uniformed Willmar girls, from left, Kayla Rudie, Grace Graves, Jessa Hanson, Savannah Anez, Tara Rudie, Sophie Schmitz, Cass Johnson and Samantha Hanson start the Willmar Optimist Invite at Eagle Creek Golf Course on Saturday afternoon in Willmar.

WILLMAR -- The Willmar girls placed third and the Cardinal boys fourth at the 11-team Optimist Cross Country Invitational Saturday.

With its rolling terrain, plus some steep climbs, and an uphill finish, Eagle Creek Golf Course is no stroll in the countryside on the best of days. But the 80-degree temp on Saturday afternoon in full sun made the girls 4,000- and boys 5,000-kilometer courses even more of a drain on lungs and legs.

Samantha Hanson in eighth led the Cardinal girls. Tom Seifert was first to the chute in ninth place for the Cardinal boys.

Ben Burgett of Willmar Community Christian finished fifth.

The Moorhead boys and the Bismarck Century girls won team titles.

Junior Tanner Bjorlie of Fargo North won the boys 5k in 16:42, his second career victory and first of the season.

In the girls varsity race, medalist Jordan Jacobs led two Century teammates in the top seven. The Century sophomore, who has two top-4 finishes in the North Dakota large-school state meet, posted a time of 15:09.

Willmar coach Jerry Popp felt his teams were not sharp for their home meet a second year in a row.

"Moorhead, Century and West Fargo are all ranked," he pointed out. "But we have to be ready to go when they show up at our house. We're young on varsity but not rookies any longer. We're having way too many ups and downs performances. We need to be a lot more focused and consistent meet days."

In girls, Hanson, a sophomore, led five eighth-grade teammates and a senior to the line. The Cardinal boys are older with two seniors, three juniors and two freshmen.


Team scoring

(1) Moorhead 48 (2) Fargo North 69 (3) West Fargo 72 (4) Willmar 77 (5) Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 164 (6) Jordan 171 (7) St. Cloud Tech 180 (8) Jamestown N.D. 196 (9) Hopkins 234 (10) Belle Plaine 246 (11) Sauk Rapids 304


TOP FIVE -- (1) Tanner Bjorlie, FN, 16:42 (2) Matt Lillehaugen, Mhd, 16:55 (3) Wade Krueger, SCT, 16:59 (4) Nick Stoks, CML, 17:01 (5) Ben Burgett, Community Christian, Willmar, 17:09

WILLMAR-- (9) Tom Seifert 17:31 (12) Sam Anez 17:44 (16) Ryan Sawyer 17:58 (18) Ian Thompson 18:07 (22) Jay Coquyt 18:13 (27) Connor Haugen 18:40 (44) Austin Miley 19:30

COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN, WILLMAR -- (5) Burgett (68) Mike Elmhorst 20:28 (69) Riley Garner 20:34


Team scoring

(1) Bismarck Century 46 (2) Moorhead 57 (3) Willmar 75 (4) West Fargo 127 (5) Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 137 (6) Fargo North (7) St. Cloud Tech 207 (8) Belle Plaine 217 (9) Sauk Rapids 280 (10) Jordan 288 (11) Hopkins 290 (12) Jamestown, N.D. 291


TOP FIVE -- (1) Jordan Jacob, BC, 15:09 (2) Sam Sunstrom, SR, 15:23 (3) Taylor Janssen, Mhd, 15:29 (4) Paige Melin, BC, 15:33 (5) Janessa Meuleners, BP, 15:35

WILLMAR -- (8) Samantha Hanson 15:48 (13) Jessa Hanson 15:59 (16) Savannah Anez 16:04 (17) Grace Graves 16:05 (21) Kayla Rudie 16:20 (25) Cassandra Johnson, 16:29 (27) Sophie Schmitz 16:38

COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN, WILLMAR-- (78) Hannah Reid, 18:18 (99) Lizzy Gardner 24:14

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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