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Runners take on snow, cold in Lions Meet of Champion

Echo Press photo by Lori Mork Alexandria junior Tess Boucher led a group of runners up a snow covered hill during the girls' varsity race of the Lions Invitational Meet of Champions at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center on Saturday. The Cardinal girls finished second overall in the race.1 / 3
Echo Press photo by Lori Mork Above, the Alexandria girls' cross country team (center) sprinted down the slippery slope at the start of the varsity race Saturday. The Cardinals finished second overall as a team, despite the freezing cold and snow.2 / 3
Will SIeling was the second finisher for the Cardinals in the boys' varsity race Saturday, running the course in 17:06. The Cardinal boys finished in a tie for fourth, falling in the tiebreaker to Willmar to finish fifth overall.3 / 3

It was a first in 37 years for the Alexandria Lions "Meet of Champions" Saturday - snow.

Freezing cold, biting winds and snow greeted the nearly 1,500 runners on hand Saturday for the area's largest cross country meet, one featuring many of the top state-ranked athletes and teams in Minnesota.

"I was very impressed with the number of volunteers that stepped up in adverse conditions to make this such a great event for over 1,000 runners competing," said Cardinal head coach Mark Nelsen. "I was equally impressed with the positive attitude and determination of the Alexandria runners. The weather and snow were a factor on the times."

The Alexandria girls had their highest finish in the meet of champions in recent years, finishing second, while the boys' team lost a close tiebreaker to Willmar to finish fifth.

Girls' results

"This is a real confidence builder for our girls' team and should provide them with the motivation to put a good finish to what has already been a great season," said coach Nelsen of the squad's second place finish to now sixth-ranked Roseville. "The girls' team had nine of 14 races that resulted in season best times."

One of the individual races that was highly anticipated was a rematch between Sartell's Heidi Peterson and Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg. Piepenburg, the No. 1 ranked runner in Class AA through all through the first half of the season, had not lost an event yet this year.

She had beaten Peterson, ranked No. 4, twice already this season.

"Jamie and Heidi battled stride for stride much of the race, with Heidi finishing strong over the final 1,000 meters and winning the women's 4K race," said Nelsen. "Jamie was not happy with her race and will bounce back in the weeks to come.

"Chelsey Richardson and Katie Iverson both had best races, running lifetime best times. Shelby Iverson took 16 seconds off her best 4K race. She has turned into a great competitor with tremendous determination."

Named as varsity runners of the meet were Richardson, S. Iverson, K. Iverson and Randee O'Brien.

Boy's results

"Our boys raced very well as a team and continue to improve," said coach Nelsen. "We were led by Zach Hodgson, who battled some of the top runners and had a fourth place finish, as well as his best time of 2009.

"Will Sieling is racing with more confidence and was very close to breaking 17:00 on a tough race track.

"Austin McCoy had a good surge over the final 1K," he added. "He has the capabilities to run up with Zach and Will. The coaches are excited about the possibilities as we prepare for the CLC championships and the Section 8AA championships."

Alexandria coaches named Hodgson and Sieling as varsity runners of the meet for their efforts.

"The Alexandria cross country team and coaching staff would like to thank activities director Dave Hartmann, student activities secretary Sheree Oberg and director of technology Craig Andrews and his family for all their extra effort," said Nelsen. "This meet is sponsored by the Alexandria Evening Lions and we could not host this event without them.

"In addition, we'd like to thank all the 206 staff, parents and community members that stepped up to make this awesome event run so smoothly," he added. "We also appreciate everything that the staff at Arrowwood does to make this the best high school cross country meet in the state of Minnesota."




BOYS' TEAM SCORES -- 1. Stillwater 53; 2. Roseville 116; 3. Mounds View 125; 4. Willmar 133; 5. Alexandria 133; 6. St. Cloud Cathedral 164; 7. Chaska 193; 8. Bemidji 254; 9. St. Thomas Academy 259; 10. Chanhassen 291; 11. Staples-Motley 291; 12. Cretin-Derham Hall 300; 13. St. Louis Park 337; 14. St. Cloud Tech 339; 15. Sartell 354; 16. Red Wing 381; 17. St. Cloud Apollo 506.

INDIVIDUAL CHAMP - Kyle Economy, Chaska, 16:22.

ALEXANDRIA RESULTS - 4. Zach Hodgson 16:37, 15. Will Sieling 17:06, 33. Sam Vinje 17:31, 40. Austin McCoy 17:44, 41. Mitch Ronning 17:45, 62. Mitch Evink 18:16, 65. David Ohman 18:20.

GIRLS' TEAM SCORES -- 1. Roseville 54; 2. Alexandria 124; 3. Monticello 1126; 4. Mounds View 127; 5. Chanhassen 148; 6. Sartell 149; 7. Eastview 167; 8. Chaska 178; 9. White Bear Lake 201; 10. Staples-Motley 233; 11. Willmar 235; 12. Stillwater 282; 13. Bemidji 342; 14. St. Louis Park 429; 15. St. Cloud Apollo 507; 16. Lakeview 527.

INDIVIDUAL CHAMP - Heidi Peterson, Sartell 14:41.

ALEXANDRIA RESULTS - 2. Jamie Piepenburg 15:03, 9. Chelsey Richardson 15:44, 18. Katie Iverson 15:57, 42. Tess Boucher 16:33, 53. Shelby Iverson 16:45, 83. Randee O'Brien 17:50, 85. Rachel Borden 17:59.