NORTHFIELD -- The third time was a charm for the Hasz sisters from Alexandria. Then again, the first and second times were pretty charming, too.
The 18-year-old senior twins capped their high school cross-country careers by finishing first and second Saturday in the Class 2A state meet; Bethany was first and Megan second. Last year the finish was Megan first and Bethany second, and two years ago it was Bethany first and Megan second.
“Megan could have just as easily won,” Bethany said Saturday. “It could have gone either way.”
Bethany’s winning time Saturday over 5,000 meters was 17 minutes, 32.2 seconds. Megan finished in 17:38.9 and Claire Boersma, a junior from Marshall, placed third in 17:51.1. (They are pictured here, left to right: Bethany, Megan and Claire.)
Saturday’s race, the Hasz sisters’ fifth time at the state meet, capped an illustrious autumn career that will continue on the track in the spring before they begin college at the University of Minnesota. They first went to state in 2011, when they were eighth-graders. Megan placed fourth and Bethany was fifth. As freshmen, Bethany was third and Megan sixth.
In track, Bethany won the Class 2A 1,600- and 3,200-meter state titles last spring. As sophomores the twins placed second (Megan) and third (Bethany) in the 1,600 and third (Bethany) and fourth (Megan) in the 3,200.
Megan did not run at the state track meet last spring due to a stress fracture in her left tibia. The injury resurfaced this fall after she raced in the season’s first meet, and she sat out until later in the campaign. Bethany and Megan finished 1-2 in the Central Lakes Conference and Section 8 meets, and the Alexandria team qualified for state for the first time since 2011.
“We’re just sad that it’s our senior year, “Bethany said. “We’re going to miss our coaches and our team. It’s weird that this is our last state cross-country meet.”
Boersma was all smiles after crossing the finish line behind the twins.
“This feels amazing,” she said. “It feels like a dream. Once we finished I was kind of star struck around (the Hasz sisters). They’re so amazing, they’re like celebrities. People joked around, ‘Oh, are you going to beat the Hasz sisters?’ But that wasn’t really a goal of mine this year. I was just trying to finish right behind them.”
In the team competition, Edina won the title with 68 points, followed by Marshall (76) and Willmar (119).
IN THE CLASS 1A GIRLS RACE, Winona Cotter’s Grace Ping made history by becoming the youngest state champion in history. She is a seventh-grader who turned 12 in July. No seventh-grader -- male or female, Class 1A or 2A -- had ever won a state cross-country title before Saturday.
Her time of 17:52.0 was 50 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Breck eighth-grader Morgan Richter (18:42.7). Placing third was Watertown-Mayer senior Hannah Truniger in 18:46.7.
Ping, who won the Section 1 championship with a margin of two minutes, two seconds, came into Saturday’s race as the top-ranked runner in Class 1A. Before Saturday, her watershed victory had come in September at the Roy Griak Invitational. The field in that race consisted of 419 girls from 49 teams in 10 states. The Griak was her first 5K as part of a high school team, although she has been running 5K since she was eight.
Ping’s victory Saturday gives her the possibility of becoming the first six-time state cross-country champion. The only five-time state champion is Carrie Tollefson of Dawson-Boyd, who won five titles from 1990 through 1994 and went on to become an NCAA all-American at Villanova and an Olympian.
Perham won the 1A girls team championship with a score of 74, followed by Annandale (99) and Trinity School at River Ridge (118).
BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP RACES
Wayzata senior Jaret Carpenter carried the No. 1 ranking in Class 2A into Saturday’s race and finished that way, too. His time of 18:26.5 was less than two seconds better than runner-up Micah Mather (15:28.2), a senior from St. Paul Highland Park. Stillwater senior Eli Krahn was third in 15:32.3.
Hopkins claimed the 2A boys team title with a score of 34, followed by Minneapolis Washburn (67) and Stillwater (87).
In Class 1A, La Crescent junior Zack Emery won the state title with a time of 16:07.8. Mora junior Michael Schwinghamer was second in 16:11.1 and Lake City junior Carl Kozlowski was third in 16:17.4.
Mora won the team title for the second year in a row with a score of 43, followed by Perham (94) and Annandale (166).
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