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Cross Country: Willmar girls 5th at Class AA meet; Seifert 19th in boys race

Coming off the start line in Lane 23 in the girls Class AA 4k race at St. Olaf College in Northfield Saturday is the Willmar team, front row from left, Samantha Hanson, Jessa Hanson, Sophie Schmitz and Serena Monson; back, from left, Kayla Rudie, Savannah Anez and senior captain Tara Rudie. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

NORTHFIELD — A junior leading three ninth-graders and a seventh-grader posted the best finish yet by a Willmar team at the girls Class AA State Cross Country meet Saturday at St. Olaf College.

Junior Sam Hanson, freshmen Jessa Hanson, Sophie Schmitz, and Kayla Rudie and seventh-grader Serena Monson placed fifth, a point behind fourth-place Chanhassen and seven off a podium finish.

In five previous state appearances, the Cardinals girls’ best placement was seventh (1992 and 2002). A year ago, the Cards placed 10th.

Individually, it was a big day for Section 8AA which the Cardinals won. Twin sophomore sisters Bethany and Megan Hasz of Alexandria finished 1-2 and Jenna Truedson of Bemidji place third. Bemidji placed 10th among the 16 team qualifiers.

In the boys 5,000-meter run, Willmar senior Thomas Seifert sprinted by several runners coming down the long finishing channel packed with fans cheering wildly to place 19th, an all-state designation. He dropped 33 seconds (to 16:07) and improved 62 places from a year ago in his third time touring the playing fields at St. Olaf College.

Sophomore teammate Nadir Yusuf also ran a strong race in his second State trip (he ran on the Cardinals’ 2011 team qualifier). He placed 43rd in 16:24. A 5:17 pace for the 3.1-mile course.

Samantha Hanson said she felt a little slower than a year ago and she was timing 15:01 for the 2.5 mile run compared to 14:53 as a sophomore. Her sister Jenna dropped 12 seconds to 15:04. Monson, who joined the varsity team in October, was No. 3 for Willmar in 15:17 and then Schmitz in 15:23.

“There’s so many girls it feels like you’re barely moving,” said Schmitz. “Then you look at the time and it’s fast. This proves we’re a top team. It was just a good day.”

Class AA


Team leaders

(1) Wayzata 53 (2) Edina 66 (3) Stillwater 99 (4) Rosemount 159 (5) Hutchinson 198


TOP FIVE — (1) Obsa Ali, Richfield, 15:15 (2) Connor Olson, Wayzata, 15:17 (3) Isaiah Barlow, Hutchinson, 15:32 (4) Jacob McDermott, Cretin-Derham Hall, 15:33 (5) Zach Benning, Hasting, 15:36

WILLMAR — (19) Thomas Seifert 16:07 (43) Nadir Yusuf 16:24


Team leaders

(1) Wayzata 37 (2) East Ridge 134 (3) Lakeville South 165 (4) Chanhassen 171 (5) Willmar 172 (6) Eden Prairie 189


TOP FIVE — (1) Bethany Hasz, Alexandria, 13:53 (2) Megan Hasz, Alexandria, 14:13 (3) Jenna Truedson, Bemidji, 14:19 (4) Anna Van Wyk, Eagan, 14:30 (5) Emily Betz, East Ridge, 14:30

WILLMAR (places by team points) — (23) Samantha Hanson 15:01 (24) Jessa Hanson 15:04 (33) Serena Monson 15:17 (39) Sophie Schmitz 15:23 (53) Kayla Rudie 15:39 (77) Savannah Anez 16:12 (97) Tara Rudie 16:41

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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