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Aaron Runge comes down the stretch during his run at the Class AA state meet on Saturday morning. Runge finished 23rd in 16:25. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

Cardinal boys finish 11th at state meet

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Aaron Runge finished in 23rd place at the Class AA state cross country meet Saturday to lead the Cardinals boys’ team to an 11th place finish at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

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Alexandria finished with 266 team points, while Wayzata won the state meet with 53 team points.

Runge finished the five-kilometer course in 16 minutes and 25 seconds. He was followed by Alexandria’s Trent Piepenburg in 41st place (16:51) and Colton Sailor in 62nd (17:15).

Rounding out the top five for Alexandria were Austin Thom in 63rd place (17:16) and Brandon Jerde in 77th (17:25).

After the race, Runge said he was happy with the way he and his teammates ran at their biggest meet of the season.

“I felt we did very good, person wise,” said Runge. “I was right where I wanted to be.”

Participants in the Class AA boys’ race ran in ideal weather conditions, as temperatures were in the low 40s during the late morning race. The course ran fast for the Cardinals as six of the seven runners on the team finished with personal bests.

“This was a pretty easy course compared to (Detroit Lakes),” Sailor said. “It was a lot faster, time wise.”

Heading into the meet the boys were feeling a little nervous before they ran their first-ever state meet. But the inexperience did not show as the team ran their best average time among top-five finishers this season.

“We’ve never been in a state meet before, so we were all kind of a little bit nervous,” Runge said.

The Cardinals were told by coaches before the race not to come out of the gates too hard. Instead, they were focused on running with a similar pace as they had all season.

“Run smart, don’t try to go out too fast or stay with the leaders too much,” Runge said. “Just try to run your race.”

The Cardinal runners said the state cross country meet requires more maneuvering as the runners are bunched into a packed group during a majority of the race. As a team, they tried to run together as long as possible to push toward the best possible team finish.

“[We] Just kind of drag everyone with us, and hope they get up with us and have a good race for everyone,” Sailor said.

With Piepenburg and Thom running as the only two seniors on the varsity, Nelsen said he is excited about the potential of the boys’ cross country team next season. He was also happy with the end of this season as most of the team finished with personal bests. “Sometimes you bring a team that’s happy to be down here and they just don’t do anything,” Nelsen said. “These guys came down here to race and prepared well and raced well.”

MEET RESULTS TEAM SCORES – 1. Wayzata, 53; 2. Edina, 66; 3. Stillwater, 99; 4. Rosemount, 159; 5. Hutchinson, 198; 6. Mounds View, 217; 7. Bemidji, 226; 8. Centennial – 234; 9. Cloquet – 234; 10. Lakeville North, 261; 11. Alexandria, 266; 12. Red Wing – 280; 13. Burnsville, 280; 14. Chisago Lakes, 281; 15. Chanhassen, 311; 16. White Bear Lake, 423

ALEXANDRIA – Aaron Runge – 23rd, 16:25; Trent Piepenburg – 41st, 16:51; Colton Sailor – 62nd, 17:15; Austin Thom – 63rd, 17:16; Brandon Jerde – 77th, 17:25; Wesley Graves – 101st, 17:59; Jim Pfeffer – 108th, 18:24

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Blaze Fugina
Blaze Fugina is the sports editor at the Pierce County Herald. Before working at the Herald, Blaze was a sports reporter at the Alexandria Echo Press for one year and 10 months. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
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