September 20, 2012 at 9:14 a.m.
North Branch secured the top three spots in the girls cross country meet last week, and that propelled them to a big win at the Viking Invite at the North Branch Golf Course. The Vikings were led by Rhianna Rinke, the small statured eighth grader who is just running by everyone who competes against her. Rinke finished the 4K race in a personal best time of 14:57, one week after she broke 15 minutes for the first time with a 14:59. Her pace was blistering, almost a minute and a half faster than Casey Hovland, who finished in second place with a time of 16:21. In third place was North Branch junior Haley Huset. She’s gone back and forth between soccer and cross country, but she seems to have found her niche on the course. She finished in 16:32. Cassidy White of North Branch also finished in the top five, earning fifth place with a time of 17:30. Alyssa Ramberg rounded out the varsity score for North Branch by finishing in ninth place with a time of 18:09. Claire Schraufnagel and Laura Dolezalek also finished in the race, earning 12th and 14th place. As a team, the Vikings ran away with the meet, scoring 20 total points. The only other team that fielded a complete team was Pine City and they scored 47 points. Rush City and East Central also had runners participating in the meet, but they had incomplete scores. Boys With just one lap to go, North Branch’s Ean Charpentier held a lead at the NB Invite, but Garret Larson of Rush City passed him about halfway through and Pine City’s Jordan Rarick just squeezed by him in the closing stretch. Charpentier ended up finishing in third place overall in the meet, but he was able to pace North Branch to the win. Charpentier finished in 18:34 while Jake Petrik, Kyle Crowell and Zach Peno came in right after Charpentier, all but assuring the Vikings their victory. Petrik finished in 19:03, Crowell in 19:08 and Peno in 19:11. Kyle Granger and Josh Petrik were neck and neck to register the Vikings last varsity score, but Granger ended up edging Josh Petrik out with a 19:25. Petrik finished in 19:35. Alex Fitcha was North Branch’s other runner. He finished in 19th place with a time of 20:33. As a team, the Vikes won the meet with 31 points. Pine City came in second place with 42 points and Rush City finished third with 67 points. North Lakes Academy and East Central both had incomplete teams. It was just an all around phenomenal meet. Boys varsity won, girls varsity won, boys JV won, girls middle school won and boys MS took second place. The only team not to score was incomplete...but I am sure we would have won that if we could,” Head Coach Anna Geary said. “We had some fantastic performances Thursday night!” Geary also wanted to thank Ward Gilkerson, the former cross country coach at North Branch. “I don't know what I would do without our former head coach meeting at 6:30 a.m. to line the course, and then getting there early to set up all the flags and finishing chute.....and then taking it all down,” she said. “Your dedication to this program is astounding...and because of that dedication he is being inducted into the North Branch Hall of Fame this Friday!”
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