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Lots of personal bests at Milaca Mega Meet

When you go to the largest cross-country meet in the U.S., you rarely come home with any awards.

This year wasn't any different.

For the Two Harbors-Cook County cross-country squad, which took eighth, only Signe Larson and Sonja Peterson brought home top 25 awards. Ailee Larson and Kieran Scannell came close in the competition that included five of the top 10 schools in the state.

"Our varsity girls want to get to state this year, after just missing last year," Head Coach Chris Hegg said.

From the beginning, the local girls positioned themselves well during the Mega Meet.

Peterson led Ailee and Signe in the top quarter; Michelle Weitz and Shelby Ahrendt near the middle and Molly Rider and Amber Fletcher back in the pack.

The team's No. 4 runner Anna Schield was out with a strained stomach muscle.

"Our top three girls fared well against Esko's top two," Hegg said.

Signe led the team in 21st, Peterson was next in 25th, with Ailee not far behind in 33rd. While Signe and Peterson were just off their bests, Ailee recorded her best of 16:48 for 2.5 miles, ninth on the Viking list. Weitz had her all-time best of 17:47, while Ahrendt, returning from a week off, ran a solid 19:07. Rider finished right behind her, with Fletcher back 10 places in 19:47. Each of the local top-three girls has led the team in its first three meets.

The 150-runner field for varsity boys' race also included five-state ranked teams.

"The boys are working hard to improve their times and place this year, led by freshman star Scannell," Hegg said.

Scannell missed qualifying for state by three places last year, and is aiming to qualify this year.

The field set off at an unsustainable pace in the first quarter-mile. Scannell was in the top quarter, with the team's next four boys in the middle and the other two varsity runners near the back. Scannell moved up steadily during the race, while David Bergstrom pulled away from teammates Josh Ensign, Drew Holmen and Leif Gilsvik.

Darren Waha and Ben Seaton ran steady, within sight of each other. Scannell finished 27th in a personal best of 17:52, moving him up to fifth on the all-time Viking cross-country list. In the process, he beat a couple of Section 7A runners he had lost to last week.

Bergstrom also had a personal-best, running 19:02, just missing the all-time list cut-off of 18:59. He also beat a number of runners who had finished ahead of him last week. Ensign, Holmen and Gilsvik all had solid runs, finishing in 19:43, 19:50 and 20:07 respectively. That was the first time Ensign and Holmen had broken 20. Waha and Seaton also had personal bests of 21:15 and 21:36 respectively. The boys finished 17th in the 30 team field.