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 The East Ridge girls cross country team hit the Pacific Northwest to go up against the top teams in the nation at the 10th annual Nike Cross Nationals. East Ridge finished in 19th place overall. (Submitted photo)
The East Ridge girls cross country team hit the Pacific Northwest to go up against the top teams in the nation at the 10th annual Nike Cross Nationals. East Ridge finished in 19th place overall. (Submitted photo)

East Ridge girls cross country: Raptors represent on national stage

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sports Woodbury, 55125
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

After wrapping up the season with a second-place finish in the Minnesota Class AA state meet this past fall, the East Ridge girls cross country team hit the Pacific Northwest to go up against the top teams in the nation at the 10th annual Nike Cross Nationals.

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High-school cross country athletes from across the country, who have qualified via regional meets, compete as clubs and as individuals in the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN).

In the race, 398 total runners, including 22 top girls and boys clubs and 90 individuals, converge on Portland Meadows to take on an obstacle-laden, classic cross country course.

The Nike Cross Nationals (formerly known as Nike Team Nationals) serves as the unofficial team national championship of United States high school cross country. Though teams have to run as “clubs” as soon as the high school season ends, the race was designed to “heighten competition between high school cross country teams nationwide.”

“The Nike National Meet was quite amazing,” East Ridge head coach Chad Cronin said. “Even more so than I thought. However, the girls know more about that because they stayed together and had their days packed. Our team did a fantastic job on this national stage.”

East Ridge finished in 19th place overall with 430 place points.

East Ridge senior Bailey Ness led the way for the Raptors in the race, taking 12th place overall in the team competition with a time of 18 minutes, 16 seconds. East Ridge juniors Emily Betz (19:24) and Brenley Goertzen (19:35) were the next Raptors across the finish line, taking 82nd and 93rd, respectively. Senior Sandra Gramer (20:01) and freshman Megan Schiferl (20:01) rounded out the Raptors’ top-five finishers, taking 121st and 122nd, respectively. Also running for East Ridge were sophomores Olivia Hummel and Anna Betz. Hummel (20:04) took 124th and Anna Betz (21:51) was 152nd.

“They really represent our school and community so well,” Cronin said. “While at the race, there were people from Nike and others who knew there was something different about our team - they have a genuine excitement, they’re gracious and look like a team. I am so honored to have gotten to see them race out there.”

Wayzata, the Class AA state champion this fall, also represented the Minnesota well by winning the girls race with 108 place points, beating out defending champion - the Manlius XC Club out of Fayetteville-Manlius High School in New York.

“I saw our team go right up to them to congratulate and give them hugs,” Cronin said.

To qualify for the Nike Cross National race East Ridge earned second place at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional race in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Nov. 10.

In a race featuring 35 of the best teams from the Heartland — one of eight Nike regions —East Ridge totaled 190 place points to finish runner-up to Wayzata, which had 118 points.

For more information and a video featuring the East Ridge girls team visit: http://www.runnerspace.com/nxn

-Patrick Johnson

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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.
(651) 319-4505
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