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Two Harbors-Cook County host Cross Country Invitational

Left to right: Mercedes Leininger, Michelle Weitz, Ailee Larson, Anna Schield, Sonja Peterson, and Shelby Ahrendt The combined Grand Marais-Two Harbors Girls Cross Country team placed 2nd, behind Duluth East, in their season opener meet held last Thursday in Grand Marais. Submitted photo1 / 2
Leif Gilsvik (left) and Josh Ensign, both of Two Harbors, were the third and fourth runners for the combined Grand Marais-Two Harbors cross-country team and placed 13th and 14th in a field of 50 runners at the season opening meet held in Grand Marais last Thursday. Submitted photo2 / 2

The Viking Cross Country team opened its race season at home, hosting Duluth East, Hibbing, Proctor, Carlton and AlBrook at the Pincushion Trail system on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Although East and Hibbing actually compete in the big school, AA class, the team ran a combined class at this meet, giving the David's a chance to slay the Goliaths.

Of their 41 kids who entered in the meet, 13 had never raced before.

First up was the junior high race. Over 60 boys and girls were off and running the hilly, 1.5-mile race.

Joey Chmelik led the young Vikings, finishing 12th in 10:59. Daniel Ahrendt had a very good race, improving a minute and a half from last year, running 11:36, and a second ahead of teammate Sam Sworski.

For our young girls, last years' star varsity runner Signe Larson ran a solid 11:24 for second in the girls' race, working off some rust from a summer of relative inactivity.

The varsity boys' race featured the three top runners in the area, two from Hibbing and former teammate Guthrie Cunningham of Duluth East.

They quickly separated themselves from the rest of the field, finishing in that order with a big sprint. Freshman Kieran Scannell, rusty from a two-week trip out East, led the Vikings with a sixth place finish running 19:19 for the 3.1-mile race.

In his best race ever, sophomore David Bergstrom showed he is ready to move up among the leaders, running 19:43 for 8th.

Two Harbors teammates Leif Gilsvik and Josh Ensign were 30 seconds back in 13th and 14th.

The Vikings were third behind Hibbing and East in the event.

In the varsity girls race, the big guns were out fast at the start with Viking Sonja Peterson, Larson and Anna Schield in the first chase pack.

Michelle Weitz, Shelby Ahrendt, and Leininger with in the middle, with Amber Fletcher a short distance back.

East was clearly the leading team, with Hibbing and the Vikings very close.

Peterson hung on for a solid fifth place in 17:04, with Larson a step behind in sixth. Schield had a remarkable race, improving by 1:30 to 17:18 and eighth place. They were the first team to have three finishers, with top five counting in team scoring.

Then six East runners poured in, cementing their win. Hibbing got their third and fourth runners in, giving them a slight lead over the Two Harbors-Cook County team.

Ahrendt, Weitz and Leininger, giving the Vikings a hard fought second place win over Hibbing by four points.