One local team and several individuals took on the state’s best runners at the class AA state cross country meet in Northfield Nov. 2.
Spring Lake Park sophomore Erin Guse had the best finish by area runners placing 41st in 15 minutes, 3.01 seconds, 0.5 seconds behind Mounds View freshman Riley McGinnity who was 40th.
Panthers coach Alyx Chapman said the first-time state participant, “ran a very smart race. We discussed and planned for her to have a very aggressive start and that’s what she was able to do.”
Chapman said Guse was ready to face the experienced field after running the course the day before.
Alexandria twins Bethany Hasz and Megan Hasz swept the top two places in the state championship race.
Wayzata won the girls’ team title over East Ridge by 93 points, while Anoka placed at the bottom of the standings, 16th, with 419 points.
The Tornadoes ran in the state meet without one of their two senior leaders, Lindsey Gast. Anoka’s No. 2 runner all season was admitted to a hospital the day before state with a staph infection in her leg.
“It obviously affects a young team when a senior captain and No. 2 runner can’t compete,” Anoka coach Pete Tremaine said.
Despite the setback, Tremaine felt the experience was a good one to build on. “We return a majority of our girls,” he said. “This will definitely give them something to build on for next year.”
Anoka senior Lexi Fritz paced the team with a 69th-place finish overall in 16:00.3 followed by freshmen Maria Kalkman and Isabelle Brezinka, who finished four places apart in 16:09.2 and 16:14.8, respectively.
Eighth-graders Sydney Paulson and Taylor Krone were 10 places apart in 16:36.3 and 17:00.3, respectively. Junior Sarone Paulzine was 105th in 17:12.2 and eighth-grader Noelle Josephson was 106th in 17:17.2.
Coon Rapids ninth grader Bryna DelCastillo was 85th overall in 15:32 and junior teammate Elise Weimholt was 164th overall in 16:59.6.
Senior Jackson Bednar of Coon Rapids was 41st in 16:23 to lead the area boys’ runners. Bednar finished 11 seconds off his personal best time, set at the section meet in Anoka Oct. 24. He was 12 seconds off All-State honors and 15 seconds from a top 20 finish.
Cardinals coach Denny Green said the two ran the course the day before to help relax the first-time state entrant. The move seemed to work.
“He handled everything well,” Green said. “He was a bit more nervous than previous meets, but he had a plan going in and stuck with it.”
Avoiding the congestion at the start with a quicker pace was the first goal before settling into a rhythm over the first two miles. “Then start to move up and pick people off,” Green said. “That’s exactly what he did.”
Bednar began to make his move from somewhere around 70th place at the two-mile marker. He passed more than 30 runners over the final mile.
“He knew what he wanted to do and put forth that effort and didn’t leave anything out there,” Green said.
Stillwater won the team boys’ title over Wayzata by 16 points and Richfield senior Ali Obsa won the individual title in 15:15.2, 2.2 seconds ahead of Wayzata junior Connor Olson.
Andover was represented by seniors Chris Meados (60th place in 16:37.2) in the boys’ race and Maddie McKeefry in the girls’ event, who finished 127th in 16:01.4.
Huskies coach Scott Clark said both struggled with lower leg injuries all season which culminated with slower times than in previous state meets.
“Maddie had a very good senior season despite her injury and even [got] her time under 15:00 for 4km in the section meet,” Clark said after she finished 128th last season in 15:47.3. “Unfortunately, it continued to hamper her in the state meet so she was unable to perform as well as he would have liked.”
Meados was dealing with a stress reaction in his shin all season that can lead to a stress fracture.
“That affected his training through the middle of the season and kept him from regaining his form from last year,” Clark said. In 2012, Meados was 16th in 15:56.5.
“Even with that he still remained our top runner in every meet he competed in,” Clark said. “He finished with a good effort at state and hopefully will be able to use that to help him in the coming track season.”
St. Francis senior Grant Olson was 86th in 16:54.2.
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