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Nordic teams finish in top half of CLC

Alexandria sophomore Ellie Hurlen makes her way toward the finish line during the Central Lakes Conference meet at Andes Tower Hills. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria Nordic ski teams dodged some cold and windy weather last Thursday to finish in the top half at the Central Lakes Conference championships.

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The girls’ team finished in second place and the boys’ team finished third after losing through tiebreaker to Brainerd.

Although both teams would have liked to finish first in the conference, head coach Jeremy Rapp was still pleased with his skiers’ performances against some strong CLC opponents.

“It was still really close,” Rapp said. “The goal is obviously to win conference, but they weren’t too far back.”

Despite finishing in third, the boys’ team actually finished outside of first place by only three team points. St. Cloud Tech won the meet with a total of 65 points while both Brainerd and Alexandria tied for second with 62.

“We did very well,” Carl Branch said. “We knew it would be close, but it doesn’t hurt to try for that top spot because we were definitely in range.”

The CLC championships, which were rescheduled after cold weather closed schools on Tuesday, January 28, was a preview of what the Cardinals saw at the Section 8 championships. The section race took place on Tuesday, yesterday, and all of the teams in the CLC are members of the Cardinals’ section.

Heading into the section competition, Rapp said the boys’ team had a shot of taking home a team title while the girls’ team could finish as high as second or third.

“It’s so hard to say,” Rapp said. “These teams are so close point-wise that anything could happen at sections.”

There are multiple Alexandria individuals who have a chance to qualify for the state meet if neither team is able to capture a title. Rapp said Julia Sieling has a good shot of making it to state, and Pat Flynn, Eric Branch and Carl Branch all have a decent shot of qualifying on the boys’ side.

“State would be nice,” Eric Branch said. “I think both of us (him and his brother Carl Branch) are on the edge.”

CLC boys’ varsity results Flynn had the top finish of the Cardinals boys’ team after he finished in second place in the classic race with a time of 18:36. Eric Branch finished right behind him in third place in classic with a time of 19:19. Both skiers earned all-conference awards for their finishes.

Carl Branch also earned all-conference for his finish in the boys skate race. He took third place in skate with a time of 17:01.

An eighth place finish for Dalton Struck (19:22) and 10th place finish for Casey Call (20:29) in skate also earned them honorable mention awards.

CLC girls’ varsity results The girls’ team finished only seven team points behind first-place Brainerd at the CLC meet Thursday.

Julia Sieling led the girls’ team with a third place finish in the skate race with a time of 22:29. She earned an all-conference award in skate along with Ellie Hurlen, who finished in seventh place with a time of 23:34. JeAnna Miller finished eighth in the skate race with a time of 24:04, taking home honorable mention.

Two Alexandria girls also earned all-conference for their performances in the classic race. Becca Mateer finished in fourth with a time of 24:45 and Britt Hurlen finished sixth in 25:02.

Lauren Hagstrom finished eighth (25:27) and Camille Johnson (25:33) finished ninth in classic for all conference honorable mention awards.

MEET RESULTS GIRLS TEAM RESULTS – First – Brainerd – 65; Second – Alexandria – 58; Third – St. Cloud Tech – 53; Fourth – Ottertail – 35; Fifth – Apollo – 31; Sixth – Willmar – 7

BOYS TEAM RESULTS – First – St. Cloud Tech – 65; Second – Brainerd – 62; Third – Alexandria – 62; Fourth – Apollo – 31; Fifth – Willmar – 22



BOYS VARSITY CLASSIC – Second – Pat Flynn, 18:36; Third – Eric Branch, 19:19; 12th – Grant Rudolph, 23:14; 14th – Sitka Corage, 25:16

GIRLS VARSITY CLASSIC – Fourth – Becca Mateer, 24:45; Sixth – Britt Hurlen, 25:02; Eighth – Lauren Hagstrom, 25:27; Ninth – Camille Johnson, 25:33

BOYS VARSITY SKATE – Third – Carl Branch, 17:01; Eighth – Dalton Struck, 19:22; 10th – Casey Call, 20:29; 16th – Justin Schmitz, 22:55

GIRLS VARSITY SKATE – Third – Julia Sieling, 22:29; Seventh – Ellie Hurlen, 23:34; Eighth – JeAnna Miller, 24:04; 16th - Raessa Winkels, 30:11

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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