October 22, 2009 at 8:47 a.m.

North Branch comes out on top of X-Country battle

Vikings win both girls and boys races at Ki Chi Saga Park
North Branch comes out on top of X-Country battle
North Branch comes out on top of X-Country battle

Chisago Lakes Invite

In preparation for the big section meet creeping up, the North Branch Vikings and Chisago Lakes Wildcats met up for a friendly duel at Ki Chi Saga State Park in Lindstrom.

The teams have raced against each other in some bigger meets this year, but it was the first and only time this year that the two county rivals would see each other exclusively in a race.

The girls race was the main event of the day. Chelsea Johnson and Mary Cross of Chisago Lakes have been putting up excellent times all year. In most cases of the two teams running the same race, Johnson has been the first Chisago County girl to finish, but that changed in this race.

Ali Zimmerman, who has been pacing North Branch's pack almost all year, took it to the next level against Johnson and Cross and had a phenomenal time for the Vikings.

Zimmerman finished the race in 16:18, which put her just two seconds in front of Johnson for the win. After Johnson's 16:20, Cross was the next girl to cross the finish line, finishing in 16:25.

From there, however, the North Branch brigade took over the meet. The next eight finishers were draped in red and black, and they included Megan Zimmerman, Haley Hasleiet, Shayna Gray, Kendra Norman, Alyssa Ramberg, Alyssa Kroschel, Carly Hinschberger and Onalee Yousey.

"Our kids ran really well, and I think we're ready for the conference and section meet," North Branch Head Coach Brian Hasleiet said.

Madi Vukich was the third Wildcat to finish, coming in at 18:53. Hannah Sapp and Carmen Boerboom rounded out the varsity scoring for Chisago Lakes with times of 20:36 and 23:24, respectively.

The Wildcats were in trouble from the beginning, as they were missing their normal third, fourth and fifth runners on the day, and Wildcat Head Coach Ken Orwoll noted that it's tough to compete against a team like North Branch missing three top runners. "Mary had an outstanding day, running the entire race with Chelsea and Ali," Orwoll said. "But, North branch runs so well in a group. Their second through seventh runners will make them very hard to beat."

The final tallies read North Branch 23, Chisago Lakes 47, but it could've been a much different race if Kaylee Ryan, Danielle Vitali and Kelsey Sorenson were apart of it.

Boys

The boys race, which was expected to be closer, was also hindered by missing runners. A week after getting Caleb Gieske and Peter Tengwall back from sickness, Chisago Lakes' Andy Magnuson and Noah Rockenback missed the county duel because of their own illnesses.

Their absence opened the door for North Branch to run away with the meet. Vikings Colin Charpentier and Tommy Toohey finished in the top two spots, with Charpentier completing the course in 18:20 and Toohey coming in at 18:29.

Josh Olinger was the top finisher for Chisago Lakes. He crossed the finish line in 19:09 for third place honors.

Joe Klun earned more points for the Vikings when he came in fourth place overall with a time of 19:20.

Gieske and Tengwall had solid times in their return to the course, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Gieske finished in 19:25 and Tengwall finished in 19:37.

"Josh, Caleb and Peter all ran really well to finish in the top six," Orwoll said.

The top 10 was rounded out by three more Vikings and a Wildcat. Jon Amundson, Ean Charpentier and Branden Heidelberger finished in seventh, eighth and ninth place for the Vikings, and Wildcat senior Riley Myers scored a 10th place finish with a 20:36.

The Vikings won the meet with a score of 22. The Wildcats earned 39 places in second place.

"It was hard for the teams to get up for a dual meet in the cold weather, but it's always very competitive against our neighbors to the north," Orwoll said. "Hopefully, this helped us get ready for the NSC meet."


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