Much of this season for the Alexandria boys cross country team is about progress as a team and as individuals.
Each athlete can measure that by personal records they achieve, and in that sense the Cardinals were happy with how they came out at the 47th Lions Meet of Champions at the Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center on Saturday.
“I thought we had some great races today with the boys,” head coach Travis Hochhalter said right after the boys varsity race was run. “I think there’s going to be some huge PRs. I look at guys like Bennett Wirth and a couple other ones, and they could have huge PRs.”
Alexandria finished 10th as a team with 20 programs racing. The Cardinals tallied 258 points, while Mounds View won the meet with 79. White Bear Lake was second at 93 and Stillwater rounded out the top three varsity teams with 95 points.
Junior Jacob Kleven led Alexandria with a time of 16:40.5. That was a new PR by almost six seconds and a continuation in what has been a solid season for Kleven, with him pacing the Cardinals at a lot of meets.
“I wouldn’t say I put in a ton of summer miles, but I definitely put in more than I have in past years,” Kleven said of preparing for this fall. “I’ve been able to go out hard, and I feel like I’ve been treating these workouts more seriously since I’m an upperclassman now. I’ve definitely been trying to help the team out as much as I can.”
Boys varsity was the final race out of seven on the day under cold and wet conditions in Alexandria. By the time they ran, the boys had to deal with a muddy course that made paying attention to their footing especially important.
Kleven said that made things a bit more challenging, but that he likes these kind of conditions to run in. Oliver Paleen of St. Paul Highland Park handled them as well as anyone by winning the boys race in 15:56.5, almost four seconds in front of Nicholas Scheller of Chanhassen in 16:00.7.
Kleven’s time for Alexandria was good for 15th overall. Senior Dane Galloway was 44th in 17:30.5, and senior Brian Denke (59th, 17:56.7), Wirth (60th, 18:00.5) and Cameron Hochsprung (80th, 18:23.5) rounded out the team scoring. Sophomore Joel Brault (91st, 18:44.4) finished off the varsity lineup.
“Really, what we want is a team that if they work hard and listen to what we’re doing, they’re going to be PRing,” Hochhalter said of the boys team this season. “From the beginning of the season to the end of the season, you can get 90 seconds faster. It’s putting yourself in position for you to try to move on if you can as a team or as an individual, and there’s some individuals who can move on if they do things right.”
Kleven said guys on the team are heading in the right direction ahead of the biggest meets of the season. Alexandria is back at Arrowwood on Oct. 15 for the Central Lakes Conference championship before running at the River Oaks Golf Course near Cold Spring on Oct. 24 for the Section 8AA meet.
Kleven would like to see the guys finish top two in the CLC and top five in the section. He believes they are on their way to posting the kinds of times that can get them there after another good day on Saturday.
“I know our seniors, Dane and Brian, they’ve been PRing most of the season,” Kleven said. “I’ve PRed every single race, basically since Little Falls. I know some of the young kids like Brault and Logan Tung and all them, they’re doing pretty well. By conference and sections, we should be pretty well off.”
LIONS MEET OF CHAMPIONS
BOYS VARSITY TEAM SCORES - Mounds View - 79; White Bear Lake - 93; Stillwater - 95; St. Paul Highland Park - 107; Willmar - 148; Chanhassen - 178; Buffalo - 184; St. Cloud Apollo - 218; Sioux Falls Washington - 220; Alexandria - 258; Roseville - 330; Chaska - 355; Marshall - 357; Red Wing - 380; St. Thomas Academy - 389; Becker - 458; Brookings - 487; Benilde-St. Margaret - 495; Windom - 496; Osakis - 540
TOP-FIVE INDIVIDUALS - Oliver Paleen, St. Paul Highland Park - 15:56.5; Nicholas Scheller, Chanhassen - 16:00.7; Nick Oak, Buffalo - 16:09.5; Calvin Boone, St. Paul Highland Park - 16:12.7; Maxwell Nelson, White Bear Lake - 16:15.2