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Cross country: Knights run in a tight pack to runner-up finishes

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Jacob Bright2 / 2

The West Central Area cross country team was in Breckenridge on Aug. 30 as both the boys and girls came away with their second straight second-place finishes to start the season.

“Any time you race twice in one week is difficult, but only two days rest between two races makes it even more difficult,” WCA head coach John Van Kempen said. “We were extremely proud of how our kids battled through some muscle soreness to both finish behind Fargo North, by only two points for the boys and 24 points for the girls.”

Van Kempen believes the WCA boys could have won the meet with one more day of rest after the season opener at Morris was postponed by one day earlier in the week.

“True to fashion, our kids stepped to the line and really battled some top runners from North Dakota and Minnesota,” he said.

Jacob Bright, Kyle Schill, Jack Van Kempen and Kade Runge all finished right behind each other in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place, respectively. Alex Salwasser was 19th to round out the WCA boys’ scoring.

“The pack-running mentality we have established with both teams will help us down the line in bigger meets,” coach Van Kempen said. “We also had three seventh-grade boys in their first 5K with Dane Anderson, Bryce Kjesbo and Mitch Dewey running together and placing in 51st, 52nd and 56th. The other racers were Reubens Swanson (21st), Hunter Mickelson (36th), Bennett Grove (46th) and Shad Swanson (49th).”

Like the boys, the WCA girls also ran together as Ella Van Kempen paced the Knights in seventh and Teagan Nelson (eighth) and Lexi Bright (ninth) were right behind her. Brynn Fernholz finished 16th and Kennedy Porter was 29th to round out the scoring.

“We also placed four seventh-grade girls into the lineup for their first 5K experience and they did not disappoint,” coach Van Kempen said. “Seventh graders Sydney Ulrich, Taylor Bennett, Alexa Blume and Brooklyn Runge came in 35th, 36th, 38th and 41st. We wanted them to stick together and run as a pack, and they did exactly what we wanted from them. We have been pleased with how our top racers can also run together in a pack.”

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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