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Alex boys running strong early on

Alexandria's Aaron Runge finished fifth at the Detroit Lakes Invitational last week to lead the Cardinal boys to a first-place finish as a team. (Contributed photo)

The Alexandria boys' cross country team put in a lot of miles in the off-season and it's paying off for the Cardinals early on.

Alexandria won its second straight race to start the season by outlasting Willmar and Bemidji at the Detroit Lakes Invitational last Thursday. Aaron Runge had his second straight top-five finish by taking fifth in a time of 17:33.8. Colton Sailor also had a nice finish, taking 13th in a time of 17:59.2 on the 5K course.

"Aaron Runge looked very impressive in both of our last two races and has shown he can run with some of the top runners in our conference and section," head coach Mark Nelsen said. "Jimmy Pfeffer also ran very well and we will look for continued improvement and consistency over the course of the season."

Pfeffer rounded out Alexandria's top-five with a 21st-place finish in 18:37.8. Austin Thom was fourth for the Cardinals (20th overall) in 18:33.1 and Trenton Piepenburg was 16th in a time of 18:07.6. Bemidji's Sam Carlson won the race with his time of 17:12.8.

"This meet was extremely close between the top five teams," Nelsen said. "But the overall depth of the Alexandria boys was the difference. We were not as closely packed as the week before, and this will be something that we hope to improve on all season."

The Cardinal girls took fifth overall out of the 13-team field after running without Bethany Hasz, who was out with an illness. Her sister, Megan Hasz, is used to running side-by-side with Bethany, but Megan did just fine without her, taking the 4K race in a time of 14:55.3.

Hasz was the only runner to finish in less than 15 minutes. Bemidji's Jenna Truedson was second overall after finishing in 15:10.8.

"Megan looked very strong over the distance, separating herself from Jenna, one of the top female runners in the state," Nelsen said. "Ellie Hurlen, a sophomore, had a breakout race in perhaps her best 4K race of her young career."

Hurlen finished 18th overall in a time of 17:09.9. Emily Thul was 31st in 17:48.8 and Julia Sieling rounded out Alexandria's top four in a time of 17:51.7 to finish 32nd overall.

The West Central Area runners also competed in the meet, with the boys finishing seventh behind Alex Toms' 27th-place finish in 18:56.2. The girls took 11th, led by a 30th-place finish from Abby Van Kempen in 17:45.5.


BOYS' TEAM SCORES - 1. Alexandria, 75; 2. Willmar, 87; 3. Bemidji, 89; 4. Moorhead, 107; 5. Little Falls, 137; 6. Rocori, 167; 7. WCA, 196; 8. Brainerd, 197; 9. Detroit Lakes, 219; 10. Sartell, 221; 11. Hawley-Ulen-Hitterdal, 283; 12. Fergus Falls, 312; 13. Frazee, 344

ALEXANDRIA - Runge, fifth place, 17:33.8; Sailor, 13th place, 17:59.2; Piepenburg, 16th place, 18:07.6; Thom, 20th place, 18:33.1; Pfeffer, 21st place, 18:37.8; Brandon Jerde, 26th place, 18:54.9; Eric Branch, 33rd place, 19:16.5

WCA - Toms, 27th place, 18:56.2; Christian Swenson, 35th, 19:27.1; Devin Nelson, 39th, 19:38.1; Rylee Nelson, 41st, 19:40.5; Ethan Olson, 54th, 20:16.3; Tyler Schill, 58th, 20:44.4; Bryce Paulson, 59th, 20:45.0

GIRLS' TEAM SCORES - 1. Willmar, 42; 2. Moorhead, 52; 3. Bemidji, 95; 4. Sartell, 103; 5. Alexandria, 124; 6. Brainerd, 171; 7. Rocori, 176; 8. Detroit Lakes, 190; 9. Little Falls, 232; 10. Fergus Falls, 264; 11. WCA, 275; 12. Frazee, 299; 13. Breckenridge, 363

ALEXANDRIA - M. Hasz - first, 14:55.3; Hurlen, 18th, 17:09.9; Thul, 31st, 17:48.8; Sieling, 32nd, 17:51.7; Betterman, 42nd, 18:18.4; Wendel, 56th, 19:09.8

WCA - Van Kempen, 30th, 17:45.5; Kylee Fernholz, 35th, 17:58.4; Hannah Frisch, 62nd, 19:53.1; Ashton Blair, 69th, 20:15.9; Katie Poyzer, 79th, 23:11.9; Dana Sabolik, 83rd, 25:56.7

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.

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