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Willmar boys, NLS girls gear for state runs

NORTHFIELD -- The Willmar boys are back at the state cross country meet for the sixth straight year, while the New London-Spicer girls return for the first time since 2002.

The state meet is Saturday at St. Olaf College beginning with the Class AA boys at 10 a.m.

The Wildcats, the Section 6A runners-up, are back at state for the 12th time overall. NLS won consecutive Class A state titles from 2000-2002.

Willmar, the Section 2AA champions, are in elite company with its run of six straight appearances. Eight other Class AA programs have achieved at least a six-year streak, topped by Minneapolis South with 11 and Alexandria with 10.

Individually, the area has one ranked runner: Madi Sachs, a Minnewaska freshman, is ranked 12th in girls Class A. She will be out to improve on her 26th place a year ago.

Also back individually in Class A girls are Tera Walker of Lac qui Parle/Dawson-Boyd (20th last year), Spencer Erickson of NLS (21st), Erika Schlangen of Paynesville (38th last year as a team member) and Makena Hofer of Montevideo (45th).

Two boys return in Class A: Taylor Bodin of MACCRAY (27th) and Stefan Lemke of Morris (85th).

Willmar has five runners on its squad that ran in 2008: Danny Voss (99th) Abdullahi Mohamed (138th), reserve Alex Johannes (139th), Matt Weitzel (151st) and Derek Ballandby (156th).

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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