Cross Country: Alexandria girls place second at Class AA state meet; Freshman Citori Halbe places ninth
Led by a handful of season and personal bests, the Alexandria girls cross country team earned second place at the MSHSL Class AA state meet on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Freshman Citori Halbe ran a personal best time on Saturday and finished ninth.
NORTHFIELD - The Alexandria girls cross country team saved its best for last in the 2022 season by earning second place at the Minnesota State High School League Class AA state meet at St. Olaf College on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.
“They came down here and just dominated,” Alexandria head coach Travis Hochhalter said. “Six of our girls had a season-best or personal best at this meet.”
Citori Halbe capped off her freshman season for Alexandria with a personal record time in the 5K race (18:43.21) and earned a ninth-place finish.
“Right at the end, I saw my time and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I finally got my PR,” Halbe said. “It felt so good breaking it here. This was a really hilly course, especially at the end. But I really focused on making it up those hills in good time.”
Halbe relished the opportunity to be competing against the best runners in the state on Saturday.
St. Paul Highland Park repeated as the Class AA state champions with 79 meet points. Alexandria had 109. St. Paul Highland Park’s Luna Scorzelli won the girls 5K with a time of 17:45.04. St. Paul Highland Park won four meets this year, including the Lions Club Meet of Champions on Oct. 8. Scorzelli also won that race.
“With all these girls and amazing runners that were here, it felt amazing to be high up there,” Halbe said.
Halbe’s previous best time of 18:59.7 came at the 49th Annual Alexandria Lions Club Meet of Champions, on Oct. 8 . She also placed ninth in that meet.
“It took a little while to break it again,” Halbe said. “In the last few meets, I was so close to doing it.”
In addition to Halbe’s personal best, Alexandria had personal best or season bests up and down its lineup.
Junior Jaelyn Miller ran a season-best 19:18.24 and finished 20th while freshman Quinn Hills finished with a personal best of 19:48.99 and placed 45th. Senior Giselle Jahner finished with a season-best time of 20:02.1 and placed 54th, while fellow senior Brynn Kosters finished with a season-best 20:05.3. Sophomore Bobbi Nichols finished just behind Kosters in 58th and recorded a personal best time of 20:05.5.
Hochhalter said that senior leadership made a huge difference at this meet.
Freshman Brooklyn Jurchenko earned a finish in the top 70 out of the 158 runners with a 68th place finish (20:15.3).
Saturday’s second place finish wraps up a stellar season for the Cardinals where they won the Section 8AA title, finished second at the CLC Championships, the Lions Club Meet of Champions, and a meet at Rocori in September, in addition to winning three meets in the month of September.
“Those 12 girls that we brought here are absolutely top-notch and we have the privilege to coach them,” Hochhalter said.
Halbe said that what’s allowed the team to perform well this season is team unity.
“We’re great teammates to one another,” Halbe said. “Everyone is so amazing and supportive, especially our seniors. They were so welcoming and told us to just do our best no matter what. They told us don’t let anything tear you down and that we’re not alone at these meets.”
Hochhalter had similar words on not just the girls team’s unity but the boys as well.
“They raced with teammates when they could and they went down here knowing they had a goal in mind,” he said. “The goal in mind was to come down here and finish the job this season. We wanted them to have their best race of the season here. Those seniors knew they could do it. And they did.”
The Alexandria boys placed ninth as a team on Saturday.
In last year’s state meet, Alexandria missed out on a runner-up finish by one point, as Willmar had 78 points and Alexandria had 79. But this year Alexandria had a 20-point over third place finisher, Marshall.
This runner-up finish for the girls team at the state meet is Alexandria’s first top-two finish since 1997.
The Cardinals have shown in recent years that it is one of the best cross country teams in the state. The Cardinals have now earned back-to-back top-three finishes, as they placed third in the 2021 state meet. The Cardinals have placed in the top four of the last three state meets.
“The consistency all comes in with these kids,” Hochhalter said. “We have great coaches and a great group of kids. For Citori to finish ninth is absolutely stunning. She’s got a lot of girls behind her. She’s got a great group of girls behind her to come back down here and do amazing things next year.”
TOP EIGHT TEAM SCORES - 1. St. Paul Highland Park, 79; 2. Alexandria, 105; 3. Marshall, 125; 4. Becker, 157; 5. Willmar, 162; 6. Monticello, 241; 7. Rock Ridge, 242; 8. Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 243
CLASS AA STATE MEDALISTS - 1. Luna Scorzelli (St. Paul Highland Park) 17:45.04; 2. Isabelle Schmitz (Hutchinson) 18:18.13; 3. Kendall Kreuger (Jordan), 18:28.57; 4. Macy Hanson (Fairmont) 18:36.45; 5. Hailee Zimpel (Zimmerman) 18:36.96; 6. Isabel Mahoney (Monticello) 18:37.06; 7. Allyson Sample (Marshall) 18:37.53; 8. Lauren Eilers (Willmar) 18:42.32; 9. Citori Halbe (Alexandria), 18:43.21; 10. Calia Chaney (Pequot Lakes) 18:44.08
ALEXANDRIA FINISHES - 9. Citori Halbe, 18:43.21; 20. Jaelyn Miller, 19:18.24; 45. Quinn Hills, 19:48.99; 54. Giselle Jahner, 20:02.14; 57. Brynn Kosters, 20:05.23; 58. Bobbi Nichols, 20:05.58; 68. Brooklyn Jurchenko, 20:15.26