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East Ridge cross country: Raptors girls top No. 2 Eagan, win second straight meet

East Ridge’s Sandra Gramer (right) and Olivia Hummel and the Raptors girls cross country team won the Dewey Minnaert Cross Country Invitational on Thursday, Sept. 5, at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park in Hastings. (Submitted photos)

Another meet, another victory for the East Ridge girls cross country team.

Fresh off a win at the season-opening St. Olaf Showcase, the Raptors girls made it two-for-two, winning the Dewey Minnaert Cross Country Invitational on Thursday, Sept. 5, at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park in Hastings.

East Ridge had a remarkable five runners finish in the top 10 of the 12-team meet as the Raptors edged Eagan, which was ranked the No. 2 team in the state entering the season. East Ridge, which was ranked fifth at the year’s start, totaled 29 place points. Eagan had 39 points. Third-place Eastview totaled 115 points.

At St. Croix Bluffs, East Ridge senior Bailey Ness finished in first place for a second time in her two races this season. Ness finished well ahead of the pack with a time of 14 minutes, 18.65 seconds in the 4-kilometer race. Eagan junior Anna Van Wyk took second in 14:48.53. East Ridge junior Emily Betz earned third place with a time of 14:51.58. Junior Brenley Goertzen was the third Raptor to cross the finish line, taking sixth place (15:07.81), while senior Sandra Gramer and sophomore Olivia Hummel rounded out the Raptors’ top five, taking ninth and 10th, respectively, with times of 15:22.62 and 15:23.03. Additionally, East Ridge freshman Megan Schiferl and sophomore Elissa McMaster finished in 12th and 15th overall, respectively.

The East Ridge girls cross country team has qualified for the state meet the past three straight seasons. The Raptors have been the Suburban East Conference champion the last three years, the Section 4AA champion in 2010 and 2012 and the Section 4AA runner-up in 2011. East Ridge finished fifth in the state last year, sixth in the state in 2012 and in eighth place in 2011.

Not to be outdone in Hastings, the East Ridge boys earned third place at the meet, totaling 110 points. Red Wing finished first with 53 points, followed by second-place Woodbury with 101 points.

Despite losing all-state runner Nate Roese to graduation last year, East Ridge head coach Chad Cronin said the Raptors boys “have had their best start yet as a team,” this season.

Leading the way for the East Ridge boys was senior Aaron Gorden, who took 12th place in the 5-kilometer race with a time of 17:47.30.

After Gorden, East Ridge had four runners finish between 19th and 28th overall.

Senior Ryan Schiferl was the second Raptor across the finish line, taking 19th (18:12.09), senior Nathan Tigges and sophomore Anthony Cauthorn were 25th and 26th, respectively, (18:24.79 and 18:27.03) and senior Taylor Huffman rounded out the team’s top five, taking 28th overall (18:28.87).

River Falls’ Trenton Powell won the race with a time of 16:32.21.

“We are very proud of the whole team,” said Cronin, who is in his fifth year with the team. “The work ethic is at the highest level we’ve had here. This started in the summer with the biggest group yet running in the summer club and continuing on with their running mileage all summer. We have a lot of new runners too. We are happy with every single one of them. A couple of the new runners are already making an impact on the varsity races.”

Next, the East Ridge boys and girls will compete in the Lakeville North Invitational at Aronson Park on Friday, Sept. 13.

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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