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Cross Country: Hochhalter reflects on another state run

Alexandria head cross country coach Travis Hochhalter talks to his girls team before the Lion's Meet of Champions on Oct. 7, 2017. Hochhalter helped guide both the boys and girls teams for Alexandria to the state meet this fall. (Mark Ripley / Select Digital Memories)

What did Travis Hochhalter, the Alexandria cross country coach, see from his runners at the St. Olaf state meet?

"Great attitudes, many season bests and an opportunity that they took advantage of and finished the season with an exclamation point," Hochhalter said.

That's what Hochhalter was hoping he'd see as the Cardinals wrapped up another nice season in the storied history of these programs. Bethany Miller, Aleah Miller, Caitlin Bright, Stormy Hegg, Jackson Wichtendahl, Jack Englund and Patrick Chromey all had season best times at St. Olaf on Saturday.

"They all raced the course and competed through the last 800," Hochhalter said.

The boys finished 11th overall and the girls team finished 12th at the state meet.

"As a whole, to have both teams make it to state is impressive in itself," Hochhalter said. "The senior leadership for the boys and how they figured out how to do a lot of the little things right is unique. They are committed and willing to put in the work."

The boys team will graduate five seniors, including Keaton Gruber who finished the race in under 16:00 at the state meet.

"We will truly miss these senior boys," Hochhalter said. "Yet we have a few kids that gained this experience and get to share with their teammates next year."

The girls team has the top six runners all returning for the next season.

"The girls team is very talented and love the concept of team. They showed great pride in their teams," Hochhalter said. "You always want to build on experiences and continue to strive to be in the pursuit of excellence. Alexandria has a history of cross country excellence and we want to continue to work hard and build teams that have opportunities to achieve success in many different ways."

This was the Cardinal boys 31st time at the state meet as a team since 1976. The girls team has made it to state 22 times.

"These two cross country teams deserve all the accolades," Hochhalter said. "They are great kids and will continue to succeed in life with the work effort that they put forth."