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Cross country: Willmar edges Alex girls by two in another showdown between two good programs

Both the Alexandria girls and boys had top-three finishes at the Rocori Invite behind a big group of athletes finishing with season or personal bests.

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Alexandria's Brooklyn Jurchenko, left, and Brynn Kosters run at the Detroit Lakes Invite on Sept. 8, 2022. Jurchenko was the Cardinals' second-fastest runner at the Rocori Invite on Sept. 22 as she finished 10th overall in 20:00.6, while Kosters was 14th (20:19.5) to help Alexandria to a second-place finish, just two points behind Willmar.
Jared Rubado / Forum News Service
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COLD SPRING — Alexandria and Willmar have been two of the top Section 8AA programs in girls cross country for a number of years, and both teams are competitive again this fall.

Willmar edged Alexandria by just two points for first place at the Rocori Invite on Thursday. Willmar finished at 49 points behind the winning time of 19:04.1 from sophomore Lauren Eilers on the 5K course.

Alexandria finished at 51 points, led by a second-place finish from freshman Citori Halbe in a time of 19:21.4. Rocori, another Section 8AA team, rounded out the top three in the 11-team field with 84 points.

The Alexandria boys finished third as a team with 108 points. Big Lake won with 36, and Fergus Falls finished second at 97.

“Some top CLC and section teams were at this course,” Alexandria head coach Travis Hochhalter said. “We came to compete at the River Oaks Golf Course. The times overall usually are not as fast as the previous week, but Alexandria came to run with some good times and many faster than last week. It was awesome to watch the Alexandria teams having fun out there on the course and being brave. Lots of things happening at this meet, with packing it up and building on our season goals as we continue to grow as a team.”

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The Alexandria girls had five top-20 finishes. Freshman Brooklyn Jurchenko was second after Halbe as Jurchenko finished 10th overall in 20:00.6.

Seniors Giselle Jahner (13th, 20:14.8) and Brynn Kosters (14th, 20:19.5) finished right next to each other, and sophomore Bobbi Nicholas finished the team scoring in 20th place (20:35.2). Sophomore Brynn Cross also ran varsity and finished 26th in 20:56.2.

Throughout all races, the Alexandria girls had 20 season bests and 16 personal bests.

“The girls’ team almost all had a better time than last week's course,” Hochhalter said. “Giselle Jahner battled out there and showed how tough she is, along with Brynn Kosters, putting in a great effort. Other girls racing with over a 25-second season best were: Quinn Hills, Bobbi Nichols, Brynn Cross, Bella Hale, Emma Hochhalter, Madeline Hochhalter, Hailey Klimek, Izzy Nei, Kenna Kleven, Anna Revering, Ainsleigh Leighmann, Mattie Scholten, Mylee Montag, and Abby Brault. The coaches were impressed with the focus from the Alexandria athletes.”

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Harrison Greathouse

Senior Harrison Greathouse and junior Landon Runge continue to pace the Alexandria boys. Greathouse was sixth overall in 16:42.6, and Runge finished ninth in 17:14.8.

“So fun to watch Harrison lead the boys. He had a great race,” Hochhalter said.

Big Lake runners owned the top two spots as junior Owen Layton won in 15:45.6, and senior Kade Layton was second in 15:57.6.

Junior Thomas Wilmesmeier was third for Alexandria in 18th place overall with a time of 17:38.2. Seniors Luke Panther (33rd, 18:09.5) and Riley Wagner (42nd, 18:27) completed the Cardinals’ scoring, while junior Payton Gessford (45th, 18:31.4) and senior Nolan Peterson (56th, 18:48.5) finished the lineup.

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The Alexandria boys had 15 season bests and 13 personal bests throughout all the races.

“The junior varsity boys runners gave a great effort and improved their season,” Hochhalter said. “It was fun to see many of the runners capturing their goals and having a great race to build on. Some great races by Landon Runge, Harrison Greathouse, Luke Panther, Nolan Peterson, Nick Meyers, Connor Garrison, Owen Jensen, Zach Richards, Jackson Dutcher, Micah Walswick, Nick Hamann, and Hudson Nyberg with all over a 19-106 second improvement from last week.”

Alexandria is nearing its first home invite of the season when the Cardinals welcome in a big field of runners for their annual Lion’s Meet of Champions on Oct. 8 at 10 a.m.

ROCORI INVITE

GIRLS TEAM SCORES - Willmar - 49; Alexandria 51; Rocori - 84; Little Falls - 101; Annandale - 122; Fergus Falls - 150; Cambridge-Isanti - 162; Fargo South - 213; Thief River Falls - 228; Foley - 266; Big Lake - 271

BOYS TEAM SCORES - Big Lake - 36; Fergus Falls - 97; Alexandria - 108; Rocori - 123; Cambridge-Isanti - 128; Foley - 171; St. Cloud Tech - 201; Annandale - 201; Willmar - 213; Princeton - 242; Little Falls - 280; Sauk Rapids-Rice - 293; Thief River Falls - 300; Fargo South - 304

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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