Lions Meet of Champions: Truedson sets record pace
Almost 1,200 runners and many more spectators got what they came for as some of the top cross country athletes in the state gathered at Arrowwood Resort for the 40th annual Lions Meet of Champions on Saturday morning.
The host Cardinals finished 10th on the boys' side and eighth on the girls behind impressive runs from freshmen Megan and Bethany Hasz.
Eight of the top-ranked female runners were on hand and the top three of those separated themselves from the pack. Third-ranked Jenna Truedson of Bemidji and fourth-ranked Megan Hasz ran with each other for most of the way before Truedson outkicked Megan to edge her by 2.5 seconds.
Hasz got out front from the first corner and set what turned out to be a record-setting pace. She continued to lead the field for much of the way before Truedson took the lead in the final 800 meters to finish in a time of 14:06.3. Megan was right behind her in a time of 14:08.8, while Bethany wasn't far back in 14:12.9. All three of those times beat the course record time of 14:20 set by Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg.
"I was really pleased with our girls," head coach Mark Nelsen said immediately after the race. "One of our girls did not have a good race, and she's really frustrated. We needed her [to perform well] to be one of the top five teams and she got sick out there...those things happen. That's frustrating but overall, boys and girls ran really well. Not everybody, but as a team, pretty solid performances."
Sophomores Colton Sailor and Aaron Runge led the way for Alexandria on the boys' side. Sailor finished 35th individually with a time of 17:00.6, while Runge came in at 17:01.4. Jimmy Pfeffer also had a strong race, dropping a half a minute off his previous best time to finish 62nd overall in a time of 17:26.5.
Senior leader Jimmy Lovrien was also able to make his return from an Achilles related injury. He showed some rust, finishing 71st overall in a time of 17:35.9, but having him back and healthy would be a nice boost for this team as it enters the Central Lakes Championship Meet on October 16.
"He was very disappointed with his race," Nelsen said. "I just talked to him a minute ago, and he would have liked to run better, but I think confidence when you've missed some training time and you're coming back, it's difficult. He didn't run up to his expectations, but there's time, and he's going to continue to race better as we get to the end of the season."
The boys' field was loaded with some of the best programs in the state. Top-ranked Stillwater ran away with the team title, while St. Cloud Cathedral and Bemidji rounded out the top three.
"We could have had our best team finishes as the boys and we weren't going to be one of the top five teams because we had some of the elite teams and programs in the state here," Nelsen said. "We're a young boys' team and our girls' team is coming. We're getting better, but we need to race with more confidence, and we need everyone racing well on the same day to do well as a team."
Senior Shelby Iverson was the third fastest finisher for the Alexandria girls as she came across in 16:07. That was good for 46th overall, while Julia Sieling rounded out the top four Cardinal runners in 89th place in a time of 16:59.5.
The atmosphere of the overall race was exactly what Nelsen has become accustomed to after being a part of more than 30 of the now 40 years this meet has been held in Alexandria.
"Having coached for a while, I'm here and I'm running into former athletes who have kids that are racing and talking to them is fun," he said. "It's a great event. As I mentioned earlier, where else do you see over 1,000 high school kids coming together and competing on the same day at an event and all these spectators coming into town? It's a great deal for the community, and we couldn't do it without the support from our administration, the Lions Club, Arrowwood, our grounds crew. The list goes on and on and on. It's a great event."
LIONS MEET OF CHAMPIONS
BOYS' TEAM RESULTS - 1. Stillwater - 28; 2. St. Cloud Cathedral - 111; 3. Bemidji - 136; 4. White Bear Lake - 144; 5. Chanhassen - 206; 6. Buffalo - 220; 7. Mounds View - 227; 8. Chaska - 237; 9. Sartell - 250; 10. Alexandria - 294; 11. New Prague - 297; 12. St. Thomas Academy - 208; 13. Cretin-DH 308; 14. Roseville 335; 15. Red Wing 336; 16. Rocori 357; 17. Marshall 365; 18. Staples 526; 19. Thief River Falls 559; 20. Park Center 600; 21. Windom 648; 22. St. Cloud Apollo 683
ALEXANDRIA BOYS - 35. Colton Sailor - 17:00.6; 39. Aaron Runge - 17:01.4; 62. Jimmy Pfeffer - 17:26.5; 71. Jimmy Lovrien - 17:35.9; 87. Brandon Jerde - 17:47.0; 111. Austin Thom - 18:18.9; 124. Eric Branch - 18:41.5
GIRLS' TEAM RESULTS - 1. Chanhassen 118; 2. Chaska 132; 3. Monticello 134; 4. Mounds View 153; 5. Marshall 160; 6. Roseville 171; 7. White Bear Lake 188; 8. Alexandria 196; 9. Sartell 199; 10. New Prague 253; 11. Stillwater 267; 12. Park Center 306; 13. Bemidji 351; 14. Rocori 359; 15. St. Cloud Cathedral 365; 16. Buffalo 374; 17. Red Wing 453; 18. Cretin-DH 482; 19. Thief River Falls 521; 20. Staples 566; 21. St. Cloud Apollo 574
ALEXANDRIA GIRLS - 2. Megan Hasz - 14:08.8; 3. Bethany Hasz - 14:12.9; 46. Shelby Iverson - 16:07; 56. Julia Sieling - 16:26.6; 89. Karly Betterman - 16:59.5; 90. Emily Thul - 17:00.5; 92. Grace Griffin - 17:01.7