by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Elk River girls had nobody among the leaders but their all-underclassman lineup placed a solid fourth among 11 teams in the Northwest Suburban Conference meet Thursday.
Elk junior Chelsea Schlegel placed 11th and eighth-grader Rachel Ness placed 13th, both making all-conference.
The other counting scores were junior Anna Haugen in 26th place, seventh-grader Maria Brown in 32nd, and freshman Ali Manthey in 34th. Also running varsity were soph Kailey Erdahl in 35th and eighth-grader Gabby Jung in 36th.
“I thought we had a great race,” said Haugen. “We stuck together like another ‘red wedge’ like we had in 2009.”
She referred to the state championship season when the Elks had pack of about five usually close together. In this meet, the four through eight runners were within a few seconds.
“Our goal is to have that bubble move up so we can be among the leaders,” said coach Mike Niziolek.
Schlegel, who placed 10th last year, ran 12 seconds faster in 2011 although she was one place farther down in a stronger field.
“I was trying to take two more (runners) at the end but I could not do it, it was so painful,” said Schlegel. “But I bettered time adn I’m happy about that … The conference is really tough, lots of really good runners.”
Schlegel had an injury-plagued track season in the spring but is feeling fine now, she said.
“I haven’t had any troubles, and I’m so grateful that I don’t have to be away from my team,” said Schlegel.
The Andover Huskies and their star runner Nicole Heitzman, a junior, both repeated as champion. Andover was comfortably ahead of runner-up Armstrong 57 to 93.
Andover, unfortunately, moved into Elk River’s section, 7AA. The Elks have won that section the past two years but the Huskies will be the favorite this year, Oct. 27 at Cloquet.
The Elk squad has “so many little runners,” remarked Schlegel. The two juniors do their best to help and encourage them. “We try to make it fun,” said Haugen.
1. Andover 57
2. Armstrong 93
3. Coon Rapids 110
4. Elk Rver 116
5. Anoka 145
6. Park Center 147
7. Maple Grove 149
8. Centennial 153
9. Osseo 227
10. Champlin Park 228
11. Blaine 342
Individual top 5
1. Nicole Heitzman, Andover, 14:51.7
2. Emily Knapcyzk, Armstrong, 14:56.1
3. Madeline McKeefry, Andover, 15:00.9
4. Danielle Rudin, Maple Grove, 15:01.5
5. Anna Nachbor, Armstrong, 15:07.7
11. Chelsea Schlegel 15:30.7
13. Rachel Ness 15:47.2
26. Anna Haugen 16:29.0
32. Maria Brown 16:42.7
34. Ali Manthey 16:43.9
35. Kailey Erdahl 16:44.8
36. Gabriella Jung 16:45.6