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Minnesota cross country: Two area runners earn All-State honors

Les Knutson

Daily Globe

NORTHFIELD —- Competing in nearly ideal late-season weather conditions Saturday, a pair of young area girls each earned All-State cross country honors by finishing among the leaders in the 2013 Class A State Meet at St. Olaf College.

Luverne freshman Madison Schandelmeier repeated her elite distinction, placing an impressive sixth in the field of 174 finishing runners, as she ran the 4,000-meter course in a time of 15 minutes, 2.4 seconds.

Southwestern United (Heron Lake-Okabena / Round Lake-Brewster) eighth-grader Rachel Salentiny also claimed an All-State certificate (top 25) by running a remarkable race, progressively moving up and finishing 13th, clocked at 15:20.5.

“I really felt good, the entire race,” exclaimed Salentiny, who was the third Section 3A runner to enter the chute Saturday, improving upon her eighth-place finish in the section meet. “I did way better that I expected to. It was a fun race with so many good runners. I didn’t realize that I passed so many people going through the woods.”

Salentiny, who emerged on the varsity scene this season with six top-three finishes, including wins at St. James (Sept. 24) and Fairmont (Oct. 3), was running with teammate MaKayla Edwards at the 2,000-meter mark, as the two Wildcats were both close to being in the top 30.

But, going through the woods during the second half of the race —- which includes the course’s longest hill, both up and down —- Salentiny passed nearly 20 runners and was positioned in 15th place prior to the final steep hill leading to the finish.

She was able to pass two more runners in the final sprint to the chute and crossed the line as the highest-placing eighth-grader in the race.

Schandelmeier, Minnesota’s seventh-ranked Class A runner prior to the race, improved that rating by one position and finished three places better than her ninth-place performance in 2012 when she clocked a time of 14:56.6.

Schandelmeier nearly earned All-State honors two years ago when she finished 28th with a time of 15:33.3 as a seventh-grader.

This year, Schandelmeier ran strong from start to finish, working up to sixth by the halfway point and holding her place the rest of the race.

‘That’s a tremendous accomplishment for Madi,” exclaimed LHS head coach Pete Janiszeski. “To duplicate a top-10 finish with all the good, young girls coming up each year is an achievement. She went out with the leaders and held her place all the way.”

Schandelmeier was the first runner from Section 3 to finish, placing three spots ahead of Redwood Valley junior Kayla Huhnerkoch (ninth, 15:13.6).

Salentiny was next, followed by Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd junior Alaysia Freetly (Class A’s ninth-ranked runner, who finished third in the Section 3A Meet Oct. 24). Freetly placed 22nd Saturday with a time of 15:29.3, leading the Eagles to a second-place team finish.

Edwards, also an eighth-grader, was the fifth runner from the section to enter the chute —- improving eight places from the her 13th-place sectional meet finish. MaKayla was 35th in the state race, clocked at 15:43.3, less than 11 seconds from making the top 25.

“I’m so glad I had the chance to run here,” declared Edwards. “This was just a great experience.”

Luverne runners Makayla Hohn (36th, 15:43.4) and Gabrielle Ferrell (38th, 15:45.8) entered the chute close behind Edwards, helping the Cardinals place seventh in the team standings of the meet.

Three other area girls competed individually Saturday, including Windom freshman Christianna Green, who was ninth among all Section 3 runners, placing 50th with a time of 15:55.3.

Adrian senior Nicole Slater, who was competing in her sixth straight state meet, was running up in eighth place at the halfway mark. She was not able to maintain the fast pace Saturday and finished 72nd, clocked at 16:07.8.

Mountain Lake Area junior Lydia Hildebrandt ran in her third state meet and finished 79th with her time of 16:09.7.

Cannon Falls senior Emi Trost, a two-time state runner-up, won Saturday’s individual title with a blistering time of