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State cross country: Piepenburg runner-up

Photo courtesy John Stewart Alexandria's Jamie Piepenburg (left) and Shakopee's Maria Hauger (right) battled step for step during the State Class AA cross country meet Saturday. Piepenburg finished second to Hauger by just 0.7 seconds for her second straight runner-up finish.

The race between two of Minnesota's elite female runners proved to be everything it was advertised to be at the State Class AA 4K girls' cross country meet in Northfield Saturday as No. 1 ranked Maria Hauger of Shakopee and No. 2 ranked Jamie Piepenburg of Alexandria battled neck and neck to the finish.

It was Hauger with the slight advantage - very slight - as the runners finished 1-2 for the second year in a row, this time with just 0.7 seconds separating them.

"Jamie had an amazing race, running off the shoulder of Hauger from the first 400 to the two-mile mark," said head coach Mark Nelsen. "Jamie raced with great determination and was fearless.

"There were very few that felt she could compete with Maria," he added. "Jamie not only competed but broke away from Maria at the two-mile mark.

"Hauger was able to dig down in the final 100 meters and nipped Jamie at the finish by seven tenths of a second. That's right; 0.7 of a second difference between them after two and half miles.

"Her time of 14:05 ties her [Piepenburg] career fastest time for 4K and shattered her previous best on this course," Nelsen pointed out. "Jamie has had a phenomenal high school cross country career. Five times All-State and five top-five finishes."

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Sports Editor Lori Mork on Twitter at @morkwriter.