Card boys' cross country: Alexandria takes top spot in CLCThe Cardinals defeated their nearest competitor by 35 points
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The rest of the field did not stand a chance against the Alexandria boys’ cross country team at the Central Lakes Conference meet at Arrowwood on Tuesday evening.
The Cardinals ran their best race of the season to win the CLC team title. All eight of their runners finished in the top 20 as Alexandria outpaced the nearest competition in Willmar by 35 points.
“We have been talking all season about having five guys under 17 minutes,” head coach Mark Nelsen said. “This is a pretty tough course, but we still had five guys under 17 and that’s the first time we’ve had an Alex boys team do that in more than 10 years. So I’m very, very pleased with the way they ran. I think most of them had their season best times, if not their personal best times, so we’re very excited with where they’re at right now.”
The top five Cardinal runners were separated by just 30 seconds. Will Sieling led the way with a second-place finish. He was in a battle with Little Falls’ Preston Zimny coming down the stretch. Sieling took the lead with around 800 meters left as the two neared the finish line. They were neck-and-neck before Zimny turned it on during the final 200 meters to win the CLC individual title by almost three seconds. Sieling finished in 16:25.41, while Keeghan Hurley of Fergus Falls was third in 16:35.68.
“Hurley from Fergus Falls broke away, probably at around two and a quarter, and he got about a 10 yard lead on Will,” Nelsen said. “I was very impressed to see Will close that back up going through the woods and get that lead back. It shows a lot of confidence and poise on his part…I’m sure he is going to be disappointed to get beat by [Zimny] at the finish line, but I think that’s pretty much Will’s best time, so I think he’ll take that.”
Sieling’s time set the tone for the rest of the Alexandria runners. Zach Hodgson was not far behind in fourth place with a time of 16:40.82. It was an impressive showing for Hodgson after missing the previous two races due to injury. Mitch Evink, Zac Bartolomeo and Mitch Ronning were separated by just two seconds as they crossed the line in ninth, 10th and 11th place, respectively. All five of the Cardinals’ top runners earned All-CLC honors for their performances.
Elijah Hartsell ran a personal best time of 17:08.94 to finish 17th overall. Jimmy Lovrien and Dan Gorghuber were right behind him in 18th and 19th place, respectively. All three runners earned honorable mention all-conference honors.
“This was a big stepping stone for us to have times this fast because that makes us feel like we can take a shot and be one of the top two teams at the section meet,” Nelsen said. “And the top two teams qualify for state. Moorhead is ranked in the state and has been running very well and will be difficult to compete with. But knowing the number of seniors on our team and it being their last go around, our boys will certainly want to take a shot at them.”
CLC CROSS COUNTRY MEET
TEAM RESULTS – 1. Alexandria – 36; 2. Willmar – 71; 3. Fergus Falls – 84; 4. Sartell – 89; 5. Little Falls – 148; 6. Brainerd – 166; 7. St. Cloud Tech – 202; 8. Rocori – 206; 9. St. Cloud Apollo – 242
ALEXANDRIA RESULTS – Will Sieling – second place, 16:25.41, 5:18; Zach Hodgson – fourth place, 16:40.82, 5:23 pace; Mitch Evink – ninth place, 16:53.91, 5:27 pace; Zac Bartolomeo – 10th place, 16:54.52, 5:27 pace; Mitch Ronning – 11th place, 16:55.20, 5:27 pace; Elijah Hartsell – 17th place, 17:08.94, 5:32 pace; Jimmy Lovrien – 18th place, 17:09.02, 5:32 pace; Dan Gorghuber – 19th place, 17:21.56, 5:36 pace