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Jenna Truedson of Bemidji (657), Bethany Hasz (616) and Megan Hasz (617) of Alexandria led the Section 8AA girls' cross country runners out of the gate Thursday. Contributed

Section 8AA cross country: Hasz twins head to state

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In three earlier meets this season, freshmen Megan and Bethany Hasz have had to run against Bemidji sophomore Jenna Truedson, who ranks No. 3 in the State Class AA polls. In those meets, the Hasz sisters have never quite been able to catch the speedy Lumberjack runner.

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Thursday, the Cardinal runners got their chance again, and at the best possible time, ran away from Truedson and claimed the top two spots in the Section 8AA cross country championships on Truedson's home course in Bemidji.

Those performances also advanced the two Alex runners to the State Class AA meet, set to be run Saturday, November 3, at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Their finishes also helped propel the Redbird girls' team to a fourth place finish in the 16-team field.

"This was a great team effort, as many of the girls ran season-best times on a cold, windy afternoon," said head coach Mark Nelsen. "I was really impressed with the way these runners have supported each other in practices and competition.

"This was one of the most competitive girls' section cross country meets in recent years, [with] many excellent teams and individuals," he added. "The Alexandria girls had a huge one-two punch from Megan and Bethany, who finished just 3/10th of a second apart, beating section favorite Jenna Truedson of Bemidji."

Truedson finished fourth overall with a time of 14:51.9 behind third place Mariah Betzler of Monticello.

"They [Megan and Bethany] set a very aggressive pace and broke away from Jenna and the field at 3,200 meters, and both shattered the course record," said the Cardinal coach.

Shelby Iverson finished 31st, Julia Sieling 36th, Karly Betterman 39th, Becca Matteer 41st and Emily Thul 60th.

"Shelby Iverson and Grace Griffin are our two seniors on varsity," said Nelsen. "They have both had a positive impact on our girls' team. We wish them well and they will be missed."

Boys' results

The Cardinal boys had to compete without one of their top runners after Colton Sailor was injured, finishing seventh as a team.

"We did not run as well as we have or had hoped," said Nelsen. "We had to pull Colton from the race as a result of a lower leg injury.

"Colton has been one of our frontrunners for our boys' team," noted Nelsen.

The Cardinals were led by Aaron Runge, who finished 18th overall in the meet with a time of 17:26.9, while Jimmy Lovrien finished 36th in 17:53.9.

"Aaron Runge had one of his best races of the season, just missing qualifying for the state meet," said his coach.

"This is the end of the road for Jimmy, our lone senior racing at the second," he added. "Jimmy has had a challenging season, but a great career as a Cardinal runner. He has demonstrated a relentless work ethic and a commitment to being the best he can be. He will be missed."

Other Cardinal finishers for the boys were Jimmy Pfeffer in 39th, Trent Piepenburg in 57th, Brandon Jerde in 59th and Austin Thom in 78th; all of them underclassmen.

"This is a young group of runners and all have shown sparks of greatness," noted their coach. "I am hopeful the experiences they gained during this season will motivate them to strive for greatness on a consistent basis. The talent is there. They will have to determine individually and collectively what they hope to accomplish a year from now."

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