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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/29/2012 6:05:48 PM

If there were any doubts about Maria Hauger, the senior cross-country star from Shakopee wiped them away with a big, fat eraser at Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational. The three-time Class 2A state champion outran 408 other runners from 44 schools to win the 5,000-meter girls high school Gold race in record time at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course.

That’s not too bad, considering that Hauger had never before competed at the Griak, which brought together athletes from Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kanas, New York and California. And her victory – by more than five seconds over runner-up Alli Cash of Shawnee Mission West in Kansas – wiped away any concerns that arose 23 days earlier when Hauger lost a race in Minnesota for the first time since she was an eighth-grader.

On that day at a golf course in Montgomery, Blake junior Clare Flanagan beat Hauger by 18 seconds. On Saturday, Eagan senior Danielle Anderson finished third, Bemidji sophomore Jenna Truedson was the next Minnesotan (sixth) and Flanagan was seventh.

Cash and Hauger led throughout the race, with Cash in front by a few strides until the final turn. Cash ran a little wide on the corner, Hauger zipped inside and took the lead as they headed down the home straightaway.

“I knew Alli Cash was going to be here and I knew she was really good, so my plan was just to kind of stay with her and see how the race was going to go out,” Hauger said after winning in 17 minutes, 50 seconds. “I was just trying to keep it close, and I knew I had something left and I gave it all I got.

“Sometimes I have a good kick at the end, and she took a wider turn back there so I thought if I went inside and gave it all I had I could win. I thought my heart was going to burst. I was going as hard as I could.” (In this photo,Hauger is interviewed by Minnesota high school legend and Olympian Carrie Tollefson for Carrie's website, http://www.ctollerun.com.)

Naperville North of Illinois won the girls Gold team title, followed by Redondo (Calif.) Union, Eagan, Wayzata and Dowling Catholic from Iowa.

In the boys Gold race, Jake Leingang of Bismarck (N.D.) North won the individual title for the second year in a row. Cretin-Derham Hall senior Kevin Docherty was the top Minnesotan (fourth) and Edina senior Will Burke finished seventh. Dowling Catholic won the boys Gold team crown, followed by Bismarck, Madison (Wis.) West, Redondo Union, Edina, Blue Spring, Mo., Perham and Wayzata.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 183
*Miles John has driven: 2,851
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

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