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Young runners shine at Tigers home meet

The Albert Lea boys’ and girls’ cross country teams ran into some tough competition Thursday afternoon at their second home meet of the season.

Hosting the Panthers of Rochester Century and the Cougars of Mankato East, the Tigers came in third place in both the boys’ and girls’ races.

In the boys’ race, head coach Jim Haney named sophomore Gavin Hanke the star runner of the meet. Hanke finished in sixth place overall with a time of 16:42.1.

Senior Aaron Bauers came in 10th place with a time of 17:05.9, junior Mason Buendorf came in 17th with a time of 18:44.3, sophomore Patrick Holcomb came in 18th with a time of 18:54.3 and freshman Isaiah McGaffey rounded out the top five for the Tigers, coming in 19th place with a time of 19:10.9.

“Both Mankato East and Rochester Century went to state last year and still have very strong teams this year,” Haney said. “Gavin held his own with some of the top runners in the conference and he should be very proud of the effort he put in on a very difficult course.  We found out that we are improving, and we will continue to do so with more speed work over the next few weeks.”

Sophomore Luke Wangsness and junior Isaac Greinger also ran for Albert Lea. Wangsness came in 20th with a time of 19:14.5, and Greinger came in 21st with a time of 19:53.7.

The final team standings for the boys race were Rochester Century taking first with 26 points, Mankato East in second with 40 points and Albert Lea in third with 70 points.

In the girls’ race, sophomore Jai Maligaya was the top finisher for the Tigers, earning her Haney’s star runner of the meet. Maligaya came in 15th place with a time of 22:08.6.

Eighth grader Shelby Evans came in 16th with a time of 22:54.9, eighth grader Mya Hanke came in 17th with a time of 23:46.1, junior Aliyah Studier came in 18th with a time of 24:17.8 and junior Karime Ponciano rounded out the top five for the Tigers, coming in 19th place with a time of 24:30.3.

“The girls ran well, and the coaching staff was proud of how the girls competed,” Haney said. “We knew that Mankato East and Rochester Century were strong teams and they ran very well, but so did the Tigers.  The coaches were happy with the reduced times and how the girls were able to pack up.”

Sophomore Joey Maiden and senior Katelyn Uthke also ran for the Tigers, coming in 20th and 21st place, respectively. Maiden finished with a time of 24:42.5 and Uthke finished with a time of 24:43.6.

The Tigers will now take at least a week off while they await a decision on when they will be able to continue with practices and meets.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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