It took until the fourth season in program history, but the Ashby-Brandon-Evansville girls can call themselves champions. The A-B-E girls took home their first win in their home meet at Pine Ridge Golf Course on Friday afternoon.

“All of our girls competed, and they were not going to let themselves down,” head coach Robert Bosma said. “I’m so proud of this group for what they did today. It’s really exciting for them. I think today really showed how much it meant for them to have a home meet.”

Lucea Wales led all runners in her first-place finish with a time of 23:19. From last week, she ran nearly two minutes faster. It’s a pace that impressed her coaches.

Lucea Wales finishes in first place at Ashby-Brandon-Evansville's home meet on Friday afternoon at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Evansville. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Lucea Wales finishes in first place at Ashby-Brandon-Evansville's home meet on Friday afternoon at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Evansville. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

“She ran last week for the first time and didn’t really know what to do,” Bosma said. “She was kind of disappointed in her time. On this course, they put the clock by the first loop. I told her to glance at it and see if she needed to go faster. She took everything to heart and just ran a great race. She worked all week with the goal to get under 24 (minutes), and she finished with a low-23.”

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Courtney Brethorst took third place (24:09) with Gretchen Bredberg (24:59) not too far behind in fifth. Like Wales, Brethorst and Bredberg drastically improved from last week.

“Courtney and Gretchen both ran over 29 minutes last meet,” Bosma said. “They both pushed it today. I mean, they dropped close to five minutes. After the race, I talked to Courtney, and I told her she looked like a cross country runner out there. She was like, ‘I did?’ There’s so much more these girls are capable of too, and it’s only going to become more natural.”

Courtney Brethorst runs to a third-place finish during Ashby-Brandon-Evansville's home meet on Friday afternoon at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Evansville. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Courtney Brethorst runs to a third-place finish during Ashby-Brandon-Evansville's home meet on Friday afternoon at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Evansville. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Caily Schlosser and Kaytlyn Pattrin rounded out the top five A-B-E runners in eighth (28:10) and 10th place (29:02). The A-B-E girls finished with 27 points, one better than second-place Parkers Prairie. Bertha-Hewitt did not compete as a team.

One of the challenges for the girls was battling the conditions. It was cold, windy and wet as the fall air made Friday afternoon a challenge for all runners.

Kaytlyn Pattrin finishes in 10th place at Ashby-Brandon-Evansville's home meet on Friday afternoon at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Evansville. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Kaytlyn Pattrin finishes in 10th place at Ashby-Brandon-Evansville's home meet on Friday afternoon at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Evansville. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

“I think it puts a focus on warming up,” Bosma said. ‘I told the kids that I don’t want to see their sweatsuits come off until the starter tells you to go. You need to be warm, and you need to be sweating so that when you run, you will be fine. As the day went on, the wind died down a little bit, and the mist came on. Our runners took it with a grain of salt and pushed through it.”

Getting the first win out of the way was important, especially for a group with many new faces. Bosma is excited to see what they can do in their future races.

“I told them before the meet that when I designed the course, I wanted it to finish uphill. That will separate the competitors from the rest. Our girls were competitors today,” Bosma said. “They were not going to let themselves down. The next step is to continue getting better, take this in stride and move forward. Going into Wadena next week, I think they can take a lot of what they did today and learn from it.”

ASHBY-BRANDON-EVANSVILLE GIRLS VARSITY

FIRST- Lucea Wales 23:19; THIRD- Courtney Brethorst 24:49; FIFTH- Gretchen Bredberg 24:59; EIGHTH- Cailey Schlosser 28:10; 10TH- Kaytlyn Pattrin 29:02; 16TH- Emma Erickson 31:07; 17TH- Mikenna Pattrin 31:13; 18TH- Catherine Koefod 31:16; 19TH- Quynn Behems 34:37; 20TH- Kiatta Korkowski 36:48