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Cross Country: WCA teams take first place in section meet

In a meet that featured all 25 cross country teams in the section, West Central Area showed they will be a force, winning both the boys and girls team titles.

"To have one of your teams get first in a large meet is great, but to have both teams is something we can be extremely proud of," Coach John VanKempen said. "We went in today wanting to compete well with the top teams in our section."

The Knights definitely competed well in Long Prairie. The girls finished with 60 points, beating the second team by 40 points. The boys finished 38 points ahead of the second team.

Lexi Bright won the girls varsity race, beating several state-ranked runners. After trailing some of those runners in the the first half of the race, Bright kicked it into gear and pulled ahead to beat Kira Sweeney from Staples Motley, who is fifth in the state, by 25 seconds.

The next group of Knights across the finish line ran as a pack until the homestretch. Teagan Nelson crossed the finish line 10th, Bryn Fernholz was 12th and Ella Van Kempen was 16th. Chloe LaRue came in 29th, placing the top five WCA varsity girl runners in the top 30 of 150 runners.

"We couldn't be more proud of how the kids performed," Coach VanKempen said. "I've said all along how much we like the kids we have and not because they can run but because they are really good people to be around every day. They come to practice and put in the work and the miles to be successful on race day."

Jacob Bright was runner up in the varsity race and Jack Van Kempen came in 11th, Kyle Schill was 16th and Kade Runge was 20th. Newcomer Kaleb Getz crossed the finish line 43rd.

"Our goal for us as a team is for each kid to reach their potential and then whatever happens we can live with," Coach VanKempen said. "I don't believe we are there yet and it will still take commitment and effort from everyone every day."

The Knights run again in Melrose on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 4:30 p.m.