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Alexandria sophomore sisters Megan (left) and Bethany Hasz run with each other step for step during the Lions Meet of Champions on Saturday afternoon at Arrowwood Resort. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

Sisters set a torrid pace

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Alexandria’s Megan and Bethany Hasz weren’t going to let history repeat itself at the 41st Lions Meet of Champions on their home course on Saturday afternoon.

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Bemidji’s Jenna Truedson came in as the defending champion of the meet after edging the Hasz sisters last year. This time, Megan and Bethany pulled away from Truedson and never looked back on their way to finishing in first and second place by beating the course record time.

“They’re smart young ladies,” head coach Mark Nelsen said of his two sophomores. “You don’t have to overcoach them, that’s for sure. They have a way of running the course and taking advantage of the terrain of the course. They do a good job of knowing how fast to go out, and they just know what to do at every part of the course, and it doesn’t take a lot from the coach, that’s for sure. That’s a lot of insight on their part.”

Megan held off her sister by finishing in 13:59.7. Bethany was right behind in 14:01.2, shaving 16 seconds off her previous personal record on the course at Arrowwood. Truedson rounded out the top three in 14:23.9 to help Bemidji take the team title. Making it even more impressive is that the course was soft and should have been running slower with all the rain leading up to the event.

“It’s definitely cool to do good on your home course because the people that you know get to see,” Bethany said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

The Cardinal girls took 12th as a team. Ellie Hurlen was 79th individually with a time of 16:39.9, while Karly Betterman rounded out the top four Alexandria runners in 82nd place with a time of 16:43.1.

“I would have liked to place a little higher in the team portion for the girls,” Nelsen said. “Our girls competed well, but we have our work to do. We’d like to be a lot closer to the teams in our conference like Sartell and the Bemidji girls in our section. They had a phenomenal team race. Those are teams we’re going to see here at the end of the season.”

That’s exactly what the girls are gearing up for with the conference and section meets set for October 15 and 24, respectively. This is the time of year that the Hasz sisters work so hard for. It’s the reason they put in around 350 miles of running this past summer.

“It’s definitely the competition,” Megan said. “Everyone else is getting so much faster that you have to train if you want to be up there with them.”

Both girls are among a group of six or seven runners that feel they are capable of winning a state title on any given day. Megan is ranked second in the latest Class AA individual polls, while Bethany is ranked sixth.

“I think it’s definitely a possibility,” Megan said of capturing that state title. “Anna French is ranked ahead of me, and I know she’ll be tough to beat, along with all the other girls, but it’s definitely a possibility and I definitely want to do that.”

French, of Wayzata, finished second at last year’s state meet in a time of 13:57.6. Bethany was right behind her in third place (14:05.5), while Megan finished sixth (14:14.5). Four of the top six runners at last year’s state meet were underclassmen, meaning it should be a talented and experienced field at this year’s meet.

Megan and Bethany know it takes a lot of hard work to keep up with those runners, in part because they have the luxury of knowing exactly how hard one of their top competitors is training every day.

“It’s so nice to know that some of your biggest competition is doing the exact same thing as you,” Megan said of having her sister to run with year around. “You know you’re at least doing something. It makes it a lot easier to go get a run in every day in the off-season.”

Their similar training styles tend to show on race day, too, with both these girls racing side-by-side to the finish line in almost every race.

“I’m happy for Megan when she wins,” Bethany said. “I’d rather have Megan beat me than people from other towns because she’s on my team. It helps the team.”

Both girls missed some time earlier this season as Bethany was out for almost a week with an illness and Megan dealt with some tendinitis. They showed no signs of rust on Saturday, and if they can stay healthy, anything can happen as the meets get bigger down the stretch.

“There’s probably six, seven girls all capable on any given day of doing it,” Nelsen said of winning a state title. “They’re all aspiring for that and Megan and Bethany, if they’re healthy, they’ll be in the mix for sure. They’re that determined. They’re that talented. They train hard, and they’re smart young ladies…with how good these girls are, it’s going to be just a handful of seconds separating the best runners in the state. It’s who’s hot on a given day.”

LIONS MEET OF

CHAMPIONS

GIRLS’ TEAM RESULTS – 1. Bemidji – 124; 2. Mounds View – 132; 3. Roseville – 134; 4. Marshall – 151; 5. Monticello – 172; 6. White Bear Lake – 173; 7. Moorhead – 187; 8. Sartell-St. Stephen – 202; 9. Chanhassen – 204; 10. Chaska – 215; 11. Stillwater – 237; 12. Alexandria – 258; 13. St. Cloud Cathedral – 289; 14. Red Wing – 296; 15. New Prague – 388; 16. St. Cloud Tech – 413; 17. Buffalo – 504; 18. Cretin-Derham Hall – 540; 19. Windom – 557; 20. St. Cloud Apollo – 579

ALEXANDRIA – M. Hasz – first place, 13:59.7; B. Hasz – second place, 14:01.2; Hurlen – 79th place, 16:39.9; Betterman – 82nd place, 16:43.1; Kiyana Miller – 94th place, 17:11.1; Julia Sieling – 101st place, 17:22.9; Emily Thul – 104th place, 17:27.8

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Eric Morken
Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
(320) 763-1229
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