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Albert Lea runners end season

OWATONNA — The Albert Lea boys’ and girls’ cross country teams ran in the Section 1AA meet Thursday afternoon at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna.

The Tigers got some big performances from many of their athletes, as they ran some of their best times of the season. The  boys’ team finished in 10th place overall and the girls’ team finished in 16th.

In the boys’ race, the Tigers were led by senior Logan Barr, who finished his final high school race in 33rd place with a time of 19:39.07. Fellow senior Aaron Bauers was close behind, finishing just over two seconds later in 35th place with a time of 17:41.38.

Sophomore Gavin Hanke was in the same pack, finishing in 37th place with a time of 17:42.56.

Also scoring for the Tigers were junior Blake Christensen, who finished in 86th place with a time of 19:05.72, and junior Mason Buendorf, who finished in 97th with a time of 19:32.25.

Freshman Isaiah McGaffey and Pacey Brekke also ran, but missed the scoring mark. McGaffey finished in 98th place with a time of 19:32.87 and Brekke came in 103rd place with a time of 19:47.85.

For Barr and Bauers, it was their best times of the season.

Head coach Jim Haney said the young team will have a lot of its top runners back next season, but the team will surely miss its senior leaders.

“We are a young team as we will have eight of the top 10 runners back next year,” Haney said. “The team will miss the leadership and ability of the senior class of Logan Barr, Aaron Bauers, Josh Everett and Spencer Clark. With a summer program, the younger runners will have to step up and fill  the shoes of the senior class.”

In the girls’ race, Albert Lea was once again led by  sophomore Jai Maligaya, who finished in 68th place overall with a time of 22:09.49.

The youngest runners on the team were the next to finish, as eighth grader Shelby Evans and seventh grader Hannah Austinson  finished in 78th and 86th places, respectively.

Evans finished with a time of 22:29.43 and Austinson finished with a time of 22:52.47.

Senior Jaiden Venem came in  105th place with a time of 24:26.00 and junior Aliyah Studier rounded out the scoring for the Tigers, coming in 111th place with a time of 25:01.89.

Seniors Kat Uthke and Htoo Wah Tee also ran for the Tigers. Uthke came in 114th with a time of 26:51.36 and Wah Tee came in 116th with a time of 27:25.50.

“Like the boys, we are a young team and we will look to improve in the standing in the section next year,” Haney said. “The team will miss the senior leadership provided by Jaiden Venem, Kat Uthke and Htoo Wah Tee.  The senior girls have been an asset to the program and have provided the leadership for the younger girls to follow in the future.”

Haney named Barr, Bauers and Hanke as the star runners for the boys’ team and Maligaya, Evans and Austinson for the girls’ team.

Overall, Haney said he was happy with the results from the season as a whole.

“The coaching staff was pleased with the effort and times the Albert Lea runners had at the section meet,”Haney said. “Runners always want to be peaking, running their best at the end of the season and that is exactly what the boys and girls teams did.  The team has had to adjust to so many different scenarios due to the pandemic and they accepted the challenge of all the scenarios thrown at them.”

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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