Alexandria’s Bethany Hasz became the first state champion in program history Saturday morning when she crossed the finish line in 13 minutes and 53 seconds at the Class AA state cross country meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Twin sister Megan Hasz finished right behind her, becoming the second girl in program history to take second place at the state meet with a time of 14:14. The race figured to be a dynamic finish for the Alexandria twins as Megan was ranked second and Bethany third in the most recent Minnesota coaches’ poll.
After the race, Bethany said she did not know she was going to win the state cross country meet until she was about to cross the finish line.
“Pretty much the last 100 [meters], I didn’t know where anyone else was,” she said.
Bethany saved her best for the biggest meet of the season. Her time of 13:53 is a personal record and just 11 seconds off the course record that Shakopee’s Maria Hauger set at the state meet a year ago.
Although Megan had aspirations of her own to finish on top among the state’s best runners, she was still excited for her sister. “I am so happy for her,” she said. “It would have been nice to win but I’m always proud of her when she beats me. And I still had second and I still had a good race.”
Bethany and Megan were neck-and-neck for a majority of the race as both crossed the first mile at 5:22. But Bethany pulled away toward the end, crossing the finish line 21 seconds ahead of her sister.
Outstate Minnesota dominated the top three spots in a Class AA race filled with metro area cross country teams. Bemidji’s Jenna Truedson crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 14:19.
Head coach Mark Nelsen said he had a feeling coming into the meet that one of the two twins from Alexandria would be standing on top of the podium.
“Going in, we felt like either one of them had an opportunity to win it, but you hardly wanted to say that out loud,” he said. “But when you watched them practice and you watched how they were preparing you knew there was an opportunity for them.”
The weather was ideal Saturday for the state meet under partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 40s. The course was a little damp, but not enough to slow down the Alexandria runners.
“I really like this course,” Megan said. “There are some hills but it is not really bad.”
While Nelsen watched the two Cardinal runners excel on Saturday, he noticed they came out determined to stay in front of the pack throughout the race.
“They were very aggressive out here,” Nelsen said. “They probably could have run faster if they wouldn’t have run so aggressive. But they were running for place, they weren’t running for time.”
With Megan and Bethany finishing on top in the state as only sophomores, the twins both said they will be shooting for the top again next year.
STATE INDIVIDUAL RESULTS TOP FIVE FINISHERS First – Bethany Hasz, Alexandria – 13:53; second – Megan Hasz, Alexandria – 14:14; third – Jenna Truedson, Bemidji – 14:19; fourth – Anna Van Wyk, Eagan – 14:30; fifth – Emily Betz, East Ridge – 14:31