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Little Falls sweeps CLC Nordic ski meet

Willmar junior Matt Weitzel, front, leads a pack of skiers, including senior teammate Garrett Erickson (78) early in the second loop of the 5k boys freestyle at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center on Thursday. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Willmar junior Danielle Erickson is shown on the second lap of the 5k freestyle. She finished sixth to earn the Cardinals' only all-conference medal. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

SPICER -- The Willmar Cardinals got their first chance to host the Central Lakes Conference cross-country meet Thursday.

They couldn't have picked a better day this winter -- sunny, plenty of snow, temperature in the mid-20s and no wind.

Perfect for flying.

And that's just what Little Falls did.

The Flyers won it all at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.

The Little Falls boys claimed their first-ever title, by a single point over defending champion St. Cloud Tech. The Little Falls girls won their third straight league crown -- by a wide margin over runner-up Alexandria.

The Willmar Cardinals took last place among the complete teams in both divisions.

The Cardinals are yet to break into the top three in the CLC in 10 years trying. This was the 13th CLC meet; the first three lacked a boys division.

Competing in either a 5k classical or freestyle race, skiers made two loops over open prairie and through the woods before finishing in the yard of the old farm.

Willmar's highest finish was by Danielle Erickson, a sixth place in the girls freestyle, good for all-conference. Julie Hulstrand finished ninth and Anna Burns 10th to gain honorable mention.

Matt Weitzel, in 11th place, led Willmar in the boys skate. He caught and passed teammate Tom LaPatka in the final sprint.

The senior-led Flyers went 1-2-3 in both the classic and skate.

"It's a nice course," said Alexandria's Austin McCoy, who was ninth in the boys skate. "Not flat but not real hilly. It's a great location." l

Boys Results

TEAM SCORING -- (1) Little Falls 392 (2) St. Cloud Tech 391 (3) St. Cloud Apollo 376 (4) Alexandria 368 (5) Willmar 350 (6) Fergus Falls, Brainerd, both incomplete

5K CLASSIC -- Andrew Humbert, Apo, 17:17.1 (2) Phil Prosapio, LF, 17:22 (3) Noah Hecht, LF, 18:09.5 (4) Elliot Busta, Tec, 18:35.4 (5) Nick Proell, Tec, 18:37.3 ... Willmar: (13) Phil Knutson 21:19.5 (17) Dan Voss 22:33.7 (19) Brad Kallhoff 23.48.7

5K FREESTYLE -- (1) Sam Anderson, Tec, 15:13.5 (2) Luke Leblanc, LF, 16:13.8 (3) Eli Fark, Tec, 16:22.8 (4) Ian Johnson, Apo, 16:47.8 (5) Adam Kempenich, LF, 16:49.8 ... Willmar: (11) Matt Weitzel 17:53.6 (13) Tom LaPatka 17:55.5 (17) Garrett Erickson 18:05.7 (19) Michael Cola 19:41.1

Girls Results

TEAM SCORING -- (1) Little Falls 298 (2) Alexandria 375 (3) St. Cloud Apollo 273 (4) Willmar 367 (4) St. Cloud Tech, Fergus Falls, Brainerd, incomplete

5K CLASSIC -- (1) Molly Binger, LF, 18:48.5 (2) Kayla Meyer, LF, 20:18.3 (3) Manon Gammon-Deering, LF, 20:18.7 (4)Amanda Klaverkamp, Tec, 21:08.0 (5) Sarah Peper, Alx, 21:29.1 .... Willmar: (9) Julie Hulstrand 24:00.4 (10) Anna Burns 24:10.7 (13) Cassie Yoakum 26:37.9 (14) Kaia Halbritter, 26:38.3

5K FREESTYLE -- (1) Beth Hauer, LF, 17:55.1 (2) Jackie Thelen, LF, 17:58.7 (3) Megan John, LF, 18:53.9 (4) Maddie Schug, Apo, 19:05.0 (5) Amanda Finstad, Brd, 19:28.6 ... Willmar: (6) Danielle Erickson 21:22.5 (12) Emily Streich 23:56.0 (14) Aileen Clarke 24:35.8 (15) Katie Heng 28:24.6