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Alexandria sees progress during lone home meet of the season

The Cardinals finished third on the girls' side, while the boys took fifth in some cold and windy conditions at Andes Tower Hills.

Matthew Johnson skiing
Alexandria senior Matthew Johnson (55th, 21:26.3) races up a hill at Andes Tower Hills during the Cardinals' home invite on Jan. 18, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

KENSINGTON -- The Alexandria Nordic ski teams got the chance to host their lone home meet of the season on Tuesday as the Cardinals welcomed in a handful of other programs to Andes Tower Hills with temperatures dropping and winds gusting to nearly 40 miles-per hour.

The Alexandria varsity girls raced to a third-place finish with 368 points. Brainerd won at 380, and Moorhead was second with a score of 372.

Brainerd and Little Falls tied for the team win on the boys’ side with 375 points. Moorhead (354) was third, Fergus Falls was fourth (301), and Alexandria finished fifth at 264.

“The teams raced consistently at our home meet, and I'd even say that the girls did better than expected,” Alexandria head coach Jeremy Rapp said. “There were some individual placings on the girls’ side that were awesome to see.”

Jaelyn Miller skiing
Alexandria sophomore Jaelyn Miller skis to a third-place finish at Andes Tower Hills on Jan. 18, 2022 as she finished in a time of 19:30.4 to help the Cardinals to a third-place team finish.<br/>
By Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Sophomore Jaelyn Miller has helped anchor Alexandria this season, and she did so again with a third-place individual finish in a time of 19:30.4. Freshman Mackenzie Jurchenko was 8th in 20:36, while freshman Bobbi Nichols (12th, 21:00), senior Dulce Bakker (13th, 21:03) and freshman Kasey Soderholm (16th, 21:10.7) rounded out the Cardinals’ top-five finishers. Brainerd 8th-grader Annelise Baird won the race in 19:15.7.

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“They are driven and determined to keep getting better,” Rapp said of his girls’ team this season. “They have the goal to make it to state as a team, but they have been behind Moorhead, Bemidji, and Brainerd consistently. They are putting a dent in that trend after competing very well at our home meet and at the Mesabi East Invite. (Tuesday), we saw great finishes from Jaelyn Miller, Mackenzie Jurchenko, Bobbi Nichols, and Dulce Bakker for team points.”

A big group of Alexandria girls raced in the varsity meet as senior Lauren Englund took 22nd out of the 63 racers in 21:46. Juniors Teresa Bitzan (25th, 21:51.3), Amelia Lucken (27th, 21:58.9), Lauren Huber (30th, 22:12.2), and Amanda Bergerson (36th, 22:31.9) finished off the lineup.

“The girls make it tough for making the rosters as they like to take turns on scoring points, with Lauren Huber, Amanda Bergerson, Kasey Soderholm, Lauren Englund, Teresa Bitzan, and Amelia Lucken getting good chances to compete and score points for the team,” Rapp said. “We've seen great progress for the freshman girls, which is coming through at the right time. We also have great contributions on the JV rosters, which is a blessing to have. I know varsity always gets more limelight, but there has been a lot of positivity and hard work that deserves a shout out.”

David Ronnevik of Fergus Falls won the boys’ varsity race in 16:13.5.

Ryker Bosek skiing
Alexandria junior Ryker Bosek led Alexandria in 22nd place with a time of 18:32 during the varsity boys race at Andes Tower Hills on Jan. 18, 2022.<br/>
By Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Junior Ryker Bosek led Alexandria in 22nd place with a time of 18:32.2. Junior Spenser Chinn (29th, 19:19.5), sophomore Cyler Coauette (44th, 20:04.7), freshman Max Chinn (45th, 20:07.4), senior Matthew Johnson (55th, 21:26.3) and sophomore Owen Gilbertson (57th, 22:45.1) also skied the varsity meet for Alexandria.

“What has stood out to me for the boys is the fairly new roster we have this year and that they have stepped up to the role well,” Rapp said. “We graduated six senior boys last year, in which five were regular varsity participants. To see the new faces step up to lead has been a great thing to see. Ryker Bosek and Spenser Chinn have consistently led the way, with Matthew Johnson, Cyler Coauette, Max Chinn, Erick Bergerson, and Owen Gilbertson. They get along well and are willing to push to get better with some youth on our side.”

Rapp wants to see both teams continue to improve meet by meet ahead of the Central Lakes Conference championship at Willmar on Feb. 1. The Cardinals are in Little Falls next on Jan. 27 with a 10 a.m. start time.

“The expectation for the rest of the season are to stay true to the principles of training and technique, recovering well from races and hard days, keep a light heart with any downfalls, and to keep pushing,” Rapp said.

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ALEXANDRIA INVITE

BOYS TEAM RESULTS - 1. Little Falls - 375; Brainerd - 375; 3. Moorhead - 354; 4. Fergus Falls - 301; 5. Alexandria - 264; 6. St. John’s Prep - 250; 7. Sartell 221

GIRLS TEAM RESULTS - 1. Brainerd - 380; 2. Moorhead - 372; 3. Alexandria - 368; 4. Sartell - 344; 5. Little Falls - 308; 6. St. John’s Prep - 162

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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