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Cross country: WCA continues success at Milaca

Lexi Bright1 / 2
Jacob Bright2 / 2

The West Central Area cross country teams continued to make a name for themselves at the Milaca Mega Meet on Saturday.

“The Knights have had a string of successful runs at the Milaca Mega Meet for the last four years. This year was no different,” WCA head coach John Van Kempen said. “Terrific day at Milaca, probably one of the best we’ve ever had. The kids rose to the occasion. (We had) many personal records and a lot of fun enjoying an entire day of cross country.”

For the third time in four years, the boys team was crowned champion in Division 4. The girls, meanwhile, earned third place in the division one year after winning the title.

Jacob Bright led the way for the boys, finishing in 16:31.5 for third out of 270 individuals. Kyle Schill was close behind in ninth, timing out at 17:02.3, and Jack Van Kempen followed with a 17:10.4 mark that was good for 13th. Kade Runge also secured a top-25 spot by clocking in at 17:19.5 for 23rd.

Elsewhere for West Central Area, Alex Salwasser came in 52nd at 18:02.7, Reuben Swanson was 78th at 18:34.6 and Bennett Grove came 104th at 19:02.5.

The Knights finished with 83 points, well ahead of second-place Nova Classical Academy with 126.

“We were able to get a great jump at the gun and continued our typical ‘race from behind’ strategy,” coach Van Kempen said. “It’s the largest race we will be in this season, and it was a great experience to learn how the strategy needs to change with so many runners on the course. We were able to beat a few teams that had been ranked higher than us in the state.”

For the girls, Lexi Bright paved the way with a 19th-place time of 20:38.5. Teagen Nelson (21:12.4), Abby Van Kempen (21:14.3) and Bryn Fernholz (21:17.7) followed in Nos. 27-29, respectively.

Kennedy Porter ran out to 80th with a time of 22:56.6, and Sydney Ulrich was 89th at 23:14.8 to close the books on the WCA runners in the 225-runner race.

West Central Area finished with 166 points as a team, behind only Mesabi East’s 122 and Providence Academy’s 149.

“The girls also employed the ‘race from behind’ strategy,” coach Van Kempen said. “There is certainly strength in numbers in this race, so the longer they can stay together, it helps everyone (to) keep going hard.”

Harris Anderson of the Math & Science Academy in Woodbury claimed first place in the boys run behind a 16:15.5 time. Tierney Wolfgram completed the sweep for the Math & Science Academy with a 17:06.8 time that earned first place in the girls race, 1:37.8 ahead of second place and 2:06.5 clear of third.

Next up for the Knights is the Fergus Falls Invite at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Echo Press in Alexandria. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Alexandria area sports updates and jokes he thinks are funny.

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